Babies dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in Aboriginal families make up one third of the total deaths, despite only accounting for three per cent of the population.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kim Hames said there had been welcome progress in reducing SIDS in the wider population, with the death rate halved since the health promotion campaign began in 1991, but not for Aboriginal families.
Today the Minister launched a health promotion video, produced by SIDS Western Australia, aimed at helping indigenous families minimise the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“When you consider the good work that has been achieved in reducing SIDS in the wider population, it is clear that a program to specifically target indigenous families is required,” Dr Hames said.
“Aboriginal families are the only group not to have seen a reduction in the incidence of SIDS since the health campaigns began nine years ago.”
Dr Hames said it was estimated that Aboriginal babies were 10 times more likely to die from SIDS than non-Aboriginal babies.
The Minister commended SIDS Western Australia for having the foresight to produce a health promotion campaign targeted directly at the indigenous population.
“It is important that the message gets through of how to reduce the risks of SIDS and it is hoped this new video will help,” he said.
The video details three steps considered important in reducing the risk of SIDS. These are: put your baby on its back to sleep; make sure your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep; and keep your baby smoke-free.
“While this video is primarily focussed on reducing SIDS in Aboriginal families, it contains information which is vital to all parents of young children,” Dr Hames said.
Latest confirmed figures (1998) put SIDS deaths at 121 for the year, with 21 in WA. It equates to an average two to three babies dying each week in Australia from SIDS with a death every two to three weeks in WA.
The video will be distributed to Aboriginal health workers and centres and will also be available through contacting SIDS Western Australia.
Media contact: Zac Donovan (08) 9424 7450