Better education about SIDS needed as deaths plateau

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Parents need improved education about safe sleeping guidelines for babies, a report has found, as the number of sudden infant deaths has remained steady after a long period in decline.

The NSW Child Death Review Team's 2014 annual report found that almost 50 babies died from Sudden and Unexpected Death in Infancy, which covers sudden infant death syndrome and fatal sleeping accidents.

They were among the 485 deaths examined by the CDRT​, which aims to reduce the number of preventable child deaths in NSW.  

Convener of the CDRT​ and acting NSW Ombudsman John McMillan raised concerns about the number of sudden infant deaths.

"While rates of sudden and unexpected infant deaths have been declining, figures in this report indicate that the decline may have plateaued," Professor McMillan said.

"The team will continue to monitor Sudden and Unexpected Deaths in Infancy closely to identity where prevention efforts could be better targeted."

Figures from the CDRT​ show the number of Sudden and Unexpected Deaths in Infancy fell from 73 in 1999 to 55 in 2013.

The report found that almost one in five children died as a result of injury in 2014, including nine children who were victims of abuse and 22 children and young people whose deaths were attributed to suicide. CDRT​ figures show the youth suicide rate has been steadily increasing over the past ten years.

"Significant initiatives are underway on youth mental health and suicide risk, and the team will closely follow these developments," Professor McMillan said.


The number of child deaths in 2014 was the second lowest in the past 15 years with the overall mortality rate continuing to decline.

"This is a positive sign," Professor McMillan said. "This report nevertheless shows that more can be done to prevent child deaths in NSW."

He identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children as being particularly vulnerable with a mortality rate 2.6 times higher than non-Indigenous children.

How to sleep your baby safely - guidelines from SIDS and Kids

1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side.

2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered.

3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after.

4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day.

5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to 12 months.

6. Breastfeed baby.