Published on 11 September 2013
An infant health expert who was recently appointed a Professor of Nursing at the University of the Sunshine Coast is leading a study aimed at reducing the risk of sudden unexpected death in babies.
Professor Jeanine Young, who started at USC last month, was previously Nursing Director (Research) for the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Services, based at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.
The midwife and neonatal nurse with more than 20 years of experience will remain Chair of the SIDS and Kids’ National Scientific Advisory Group.
“I was attracted to USC because of the huge opportunities for locally-relevant, world-class research as well as teaching and community engagement such as collaborations with the planned Sunshine Coast University Hospital and Skills, Academic and Research Centre,” she said.
Professor Young’s ongoing research project is examining the potential benefits of a portable infant sleep space called the Pepi-pod in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“The Pepi-pod Program has three components,” she said.
“The safe sleep enabler is a polypropylene box that is transformed into an infant bed through the addition of a fabric cover and tight-fitting mattress. It is incorporated within safe sleeping health promotion and family commitment to share the safe sleeping message with their social networks.”
Pepi-pods were distributed to families in Christchurch during the 2011 earthquakes, with parents reporting benefits such as having the baby close, peace of mind, and assistance with settling the baby.
“This is a preventive health initiative that allows bed-sharing to occur within a safer sleep environment,” Professor Young said. “We want to determine whether it will be accepted and used effectively by high-risk groups in south-east Queensland.”
The Pepi-pod program is being trialled across five sites including Brisbane, Caboolture, the Townsville-Mackay region and Woorabinda.
Professor Young brings to USC two Australian Government grants worth almost $325,000 that she received this year to support the trial. The grants are ‘Closing the Gap: National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development’ ($314,960) and ‘Infront Outback Grants for Novice Researchers’ ($10,000) where Professor Young will supervise the research of an Indigenous Health Promotion Officer, Leanne Craigie.
The project is also supported by SIDS and Kids, and the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian.
USC Associate Professor Margaret Barnes, who is Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said Professor Young was an experienced researcher and clinician who would join another newly-appointed Professor of Nursing, Dr Marianne Wallis.
“Jeanine and Marianne will lead and build on our research in Nursing Science, which is one of USC’s most popular programs,” Associate Professor Barnes said.
— Julie Schomberg