Objectives: To assess awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and risk reducing recommendations in a sample of mothers in North Queensland, Australia, and to examine their infant care practices.
Method: Interviews conducted with 195 women using a standardized questionnaire between October 1997 and January 1998.
Results: 191 questionnaires analyzed; 134 (70.2%) Caucasian and 57 (29.8%) indigenous women. Four women with previous SIDS experience were excluded from the analysis. Eight (4.2%) had never heard of SIDS. Twenty-nine (15.2%) had heard of SIDS and 154 (80.6%) had heard of SIDS and could list risk recommendations to reduce its incidence. Multivariate analysis identified ethnicity as the only significant predictor of maternal knowledge. Indigenous mothers knew less about SIDS: adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 5.4; 95% confidence interval (CI) = [2.1-14.0]. Avoidance of prone sleeping was the most frequently identified recommendation (n = 132), with no smoking in pregnancy (n = 48) and breastfeeding (n = 40) identified least frequently. There were 80.2% of mothers who put their infant in non-prone positions to sleep. Only 48 (25%) women identified smoking in pregnancy, and 93 (48.6%) smoking in the infant's environment as risk factors. Indigenous women were more likely to smoke in their pregnancy (P = 0.004), bed share with their infant (P = 0.0001), and have smokers in the home.
Conclusion: There is a high level of awareness of SIDS and the main associated risk factor of infant prone sleeping, but the link between SIDS and smoking requires further emphasis. Future campaigns should ensure the SIDS message is delivered more effectively to the indigenous communities.