Rate of sudden deaths in Indigenous infants much higher than estimated: USC research

Published:

Jeanine Young and Rebecca Shipstone

Indigenous infants in Queensland may be dying suddenly and unexpectedly at a rate more than 3.5 times that of non-Indigenous infants, according to USC Nursing and Midwifery research.

The study, published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, found the rate of Sudden and Unexpected Death in Infants (SUDI) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants across Queensland from 2010 to 2014 was much higher than had been previously estimated.

PhD researcher Rebecca Shipstone, who led the study supervised by USC Professor of Nursing Jeanine Young, said the official state and ‘Closing the Gap’ child death statistics for Queensland reported an Indigenous SUDI rate only twice that of non-Indigenous infants.

She said the project had applied, for the first time, a new method for combining data from a variety of sources to produce more reliable information about Indigenous status.

“Indigenous status may not be recorded accurately on all death certificates due to lack of information, so we used an algorithm to combine the status recorded from five government collections (birth and death registrations, health data, child protection and coronial records),” she said. 

“We also applied the algorithm to population data to more accurately calculate infant mortality.”

SUDI is a broad category of deaths in babies aged less than one year. It includes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents where the cause of death is not immediately obvious. 

Most SUDI deaths are considered preventable, with known risk factors including sleeping a baby on its tummy, cigarette smoke exposure and unsafe sleep environments.

Ms Shipstone said the research aimed to produce accurate data about the Indigenous status of 228 infants who died of SUDI in the four-year period – and the results were concerning.

“The results identified 27 percent of the infants as Indigenous, compared to 16 percent in the original data,” she said. 

“When that increase is compared to non-Indigenous infant SUDI, the rate is more than 3.5 times higher.”

Professor Young, who leads long-term research into infant deaths and is a member of the Queensland Paediatric Quality Council, Queensland Child Death Review Panel, and Red Nose Scientific Advisory Group, said the study “called into question some of the previously reported gains towards Closing the Gap in Indigenous infant mortality”.

“This study is part of ongoing research that aims to more fully understand the social and environmental contexts in which these deaths occur, and the groups most affected,” she said.

“SUDI have been shown to be responsive to public health initiatives, and as such serve as a litmus test for the effectiveness of initiatives to reduce disparities in Indigenous infant mortality.”

Rebecca Shipstone received a USC Research Scholarship for this project. The research paper is online at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1753-6405.12951
 

 
Community Science & Research University & TAFE
Social:   

University Of The Sunshine Coast : View Full Profile
90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
07 5430 1234
University Of The Sunshine Coast
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
New $4.2m sports facility to be officially opened 12 December 2019 | A major new sports facility for the Sunshine Coast will be officially opened at the USC Sports Precinct tomorrow. More information...
USC students to plant legacy of sustainability 12 December 2019 | Dozens of students who have just completed degrees with USC’s School of Social Sciences will be forever linked to their Sunshine Coast campus by planting trees tomorrow. More information...
Solar Nights goes under the sea at USC 11 December 2019 | Sea life will be in the spotlight for the return of Solar Nights – the Sunshine Coast’s biggest and most captivating light trail.   More information...
Artwork inspired by gift of giving 11 December 2019 | A gift of Indigenous-inspired artwork is at the centre of a touching role reversal involving two of the Sunshine Coast’s most generous philanthropists and an appreciative USC Social Work student. More information...
How cyberbullying affects your brain: study reveals 11 December 2019 | Cyberbullying has a measurable impact on the brain even if you are just watching, according to world-first research from USC’s Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience - Thompson Institute. More information...
USC researchers gain grants: Managing AI risks and reducing methane from cows 06 December 2019 | Research projects at USC to tackle two major global threats – climate change and unchecked artificial intelligence – have been boosted by nearly $1million in Australian Research Council Discovery Project... More information...
USC research to diagnose ‘invisible’ illness faster 09 December 2019 | A USC researcher has been awarded a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council grant worth more than $1.2million to help find the underlying neurobiological factors that cause chronic fatigue synd... More information...
Hollywood star praises USC koala detection dog 04 December 2019 | A USC detection dog called Bear that is working to find injured and displaced koalas after recent bushfires in Australia has gained the attention of Hollywood heavyweights Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. More information...
Graduate wins prestigious young planner award 04 December 2019 | A USC planning graduate described as a brilliant role model to others across Australia has been named Queensland’s Young Planner of the Year. More information...
USC academic launches ‘Christmas book’ with a twist 04 December 2019 | A best-selling new novel written last Christmas on the Sunshine Coast may play on popular Christmas song lyrics – but the story is far from whimsical. More information...


comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service