Sudden infant death syndrome in 2009
Infants who die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) account for
the majority of infants who die suddenly and unexpectedly. In New
South Wales alone, 50–60 SIDS deaths occur each year.
Risk factors for SIDS
Although no clear cause for SIDS has been identified, studies have
identified three key factors associated with an increased risk of SIDS:
sleeping position, parental (particularly maternal) smoking, and
Knowledge of safe sleeping practice
Safe sleeping messages are promoted widely throughout Australia.
Australian and overseas studies suggest midwives, nurses and general
practitioners have inconsistent knowledge about current safe sleeping
Considerations for Australian GPs
Because of GPs known influence on infant care practice, they have a
crucial role to play in the continuing education of parents, and have the
potential to further reduce the risk of SIDS.
The sudden death of an infant is a traumatic experience for both families and health practitioners. The most common cause of sudden infant death is SIDS, defined as ‘the sudden and unexpected death of an infant under 1 year of age, with onset of lethal episode apparently occurring during sleep, that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation including perfor mance of a complete autopsy review of the circumstances of death and clinical history’.1 In 2004, SIDS accounted for 4.5% of deaths in infants aged less than 1 year in New South Wales.2 Evidence suggests the most common age of death from SIDS is 2–5 months, with a peak incidence at around 3–4 months.1
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