Maori infant care practices: implications for health messages, infant care services and SIDS prevention in Maori communities

Pac Health Dialog. 2000 Mar;7(1):29-37.


This paper uses findings from the Maori section of a multiethnic infant care practices (ICP) study undertaken in Auckland, New Zealand/Aotearoa, in 1998. It aims to increase understanding of present day Maori infant care practices in order, firstly, to inform infant health message and service delivery to Maori and, secondly, to understand the context of practices that comprise modifiable risk factors for SIDS. Publicity about modifiable SIDS risk factors since the early 1990s brought about a significant reduction in the national SIDS rate but the Māori rate reduced more slowly and in 1998 was still three times that of non-Māori. The ICP study was a qualitative study that, for the Māori section, involved seven focus groups and a one-on-one interview comprising 26 caregivers of under 12 month old infants. This paper focuses on five selected areas explored within the ICP study: sources of support, customary practices, infant feeding, infant sleeping arrangements and smoking. It discusses both valued infant care norms and factors that inhibit changes known to reduce SIDS risk. It argues that valued practices need recognition in order to make messages effective. It also challenges the emphasis on individual behaviour change as the primary means to reduce SIDS risk and argues that there is a need to extend prevention strategies beyond simple behaviour change messages to include structural change to reduce 'non modifiable' risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Education / organization & administration
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Parents / education
  • Risk Factors
  • Sudden Infant Death / ethnology
  • Sudden Infant Death / prevention & control*