USC research into baby sleep routines to save lives

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USC research into baby sleep routines to save lives

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USC Professor Jeanine Young  with a new mother discussing infant sleeping routines

16 August 2017

USC research team is conducting one of the largest studies ever into sudden and unexpected infant deaths in Queensland.

The researchers are sending surveys across the state to families with babies born during April and May this year asking how they care for their infants and the sleep routines they usually use.

Chief project investigator USC Professor of Nursing Jeanine Young said despite two safe sleeping public health campaigns since 2002, Queensland had one of the highest rates of unexplained infant death in the nation over the past decade.

“By better understanding how parents use advice and public health recommendations to care for their babies, we hope to reduce the rate of fatal sleeping accidents and sudden infant deaths,” Professor Young said.

“The Infant Care Awareness and Routines Evaluation Among Queenslanders study is the first of this kind in 15 years, and is supported as a priority by the State Coroner and Red Nose, formerly SIDS and Kids.”

The research team includes USC and Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Senior Research Fellow Dr Lauren Kearney and USC PhD candidate and paediatric clinical nurse Roni Cole.

Ms Cole said the findings would be used to shape future public health campaigns and safe sleeping messages to help ensure healthcare professionals, parents and carers were provided with the most up-to-date advice available.

“Each week, around two babies under the age of 12 months die suddenly and unexpectedly in Australia,” said Ms Cole, who was awarded a $65,700 Research Higher Degree Wishlist Scholarship from the Sunshine Coast Health Foundation to assist with her research.

“Previous research clearly demonstrates that some infant care practices are associated with increased risk of babies dying; while others may protect babies.”

Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe said supporting innovative research in the medical field was a strong priority for the health foundation.

“Safe sleeping and infant care is a subject which is so incredibly important and every new parent debates what sleeping routine is best for them,” Ms Rowe said. “We are extremely proud to fund this innovative project which could save young lives.”

Red Nose is encouraging families who receive an invitation to participate in the study.

“By sharing their experiences, parents and carers can play an important role in helping reduce the number of Queensland families who experience the sudden and unexpected death of a child,” Red Nose CEO Theron Vassiliou said.

Families seeking further information can contact Roni Cole at roni.cole@research.usc.edu.au. They can also register here for information on future research projects exploring the care of infants and children.

— Clare McKay

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