Sudden infant death syndrome in an urban Aboriginal community

J Paediatr Child Health. 2013 Dec;49(12):1025-31. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12306. Epub 2013 Jun 20.


Aim: The study aims to understand sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk and preventive practices in an urban Aboriginal community, through exploration of mothers' knowledge and practices and examination of coroner case records.

Methods: Data were collected from the mothers of Aboriginal infants participating in the Gudaga Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study. At 2-3 weeks post-natal, mothers were asked about SIDS risk-reduction practices, infant sleeping position and smoking practices within the home. Questions were repeated when study infants were 6 months of age. During the first 18 months of the study, three infants within the cohort died. All deaths were identified as SIDS related. The Coroner reports for these infants were reviewed.

Results: At the 2-3 weeks data collection point, approximately 66.2% (n = 98) of mothers correctly identified two or more SIDS risk-reduction strategies. At this same data point, approximately 82% (n = 122) of mothers were putting their infants to sleep on their backs (supine). Higher maternal education was significantly associated (P < 0.01), with identification of two or more correct SIDS risk-reduction strategies and supine sleeping position at 2-3 weeks. The Coroner considered two infants who had been sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment.

Conclusion: Rates of SIDS deaths within the study community were much higher than the national average. Most mothers were putting their infant to sleep correctly even though they may be unaware that their practice was in accordance with recommended guidelines. Best practice safe sleeping environments are difficult to achieve for some families living in low socio-economic settings.

Keywords: Aboriginal infant; infant care practice; modifiable risk factor; sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bedding and Linens
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Mothers
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sudden Infant Death / ethnology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / prevention & control
  • Supine Position
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult