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The Context and Circumstances of Unintentional Suffocation in Place of Sleep in New Zealand Hayman R.M, Dalziel SR, Baker N.J de C New Zealand Child and.

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Presentation on theme: "The Context and Circumstances of Unintentional Suffocation in Place of Sleep in New Zealand Hayman R.M, Dalziel SR, Baker N.J de C New Zealand Child and."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Context and Circumstances of Unintentional Suffocation in Place of Sleep in New Zealand Hayman R.M, Dalziel SR, Baker N.J de C New Zealand Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee

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4 From National Mortality Collection – Suffocation is 2 nd commonest cause of injury death after transport therefore needed detailed review of suffocation using national & local information collection Focus on part of the results relevant to < 1 yr One National Committee 20 local death review groups Based on 20 DHBs – “Health States”

5 Accidental suffocation in place of sleep - 0 days to 23 mths NZ 2002-2009 (n=152) Source: CYMRC and PMMRC Cases by ICD-10-AM Underlying Cause of Death as assigned in National Mortality Collection.

6 Methods Broad ICD 10 Search by 14 codes – Unintentional death by suffocation – Eight years 2002 – 2009 inc 621 cases – for inclusion 3 independent reviewers sought evidence of death in place of sleep external compression of the neck or chest or oro-nasal compression or blockage of airway with object other than vomit 50 meet criteria = categorical suffocation in place of sleep Subjected to detailed review – location, means & circumstance of death – using mortality data systems, local review, coronial records

7 ICD 10 Search Criteria 1.*Pneumonitis due to food and vomit (ICD-10-AM J690) 2.*Asphyxia (ICD-10-AM R090) 3.*Unattended death (ICD-10-AM R98) 4.*Other ill defined and unspecified causes of mortality (ICD-10-AM R99) 5.*Accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ICD-10-AM W75) 6.*Other accidental hanging and strangulation (ICD-10-AM W76) 7.*Threat to breathing due to cave-in, falling earth and other substances (ICD-10- AM W77) 8.*Inhalation of gastric contents (ICD-10-AM W78) 9.*Inhalation and ingestion of food causing obstruction of respiratory tract (ICD- 10-AM W79) 10.*Inhalation and ingestion of other objects causing obstruction of respiratory tract (ICD-10-AM W80, W808) 11.*Other specified threats to breathing (ICD-10-AM W83) 12.*Unspecified threat to breathing (ICD-10-AM W84) 13.*Hanging, strangulation and suffocation, undetermined intent (ICD-10-AM Y20) 14.*Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (ICD-10-AM R95)

8 Age Distribution Forty-eight (96.0%) under 12 months of age For under ones average age of death was 3.4 mths. – range 3 days - 10 months Twenty one (42%) under one month

9 Unintentional Suffocation in Place of Sleep by Ethnicity Ethnic group Total 2002– 2009 rate per 100,000 Rate ratio RR Confidence interval (95%) European 100.151.00- Māori 321.218.224.04 - 16.73 Pacific 70.674.561.74 - 11.98 Asian 10.080.520.07 - 4.07 Subtotal 500.42 Rate data based on total population under age 25

10 Location of Death Bed and mattress arrangements n = 32 (64%) – mattresses on floor, bunk beds, beds pulled together, bean bag, tri-pillow, mixtures, single mattress two people Couch or chair n = 9 (18%) Cot n = 7 (14%) – six faulty cots – gaps round mattresses – faulty cots sides slipped through and trapped wedged in gap by sagging cot side

11 Means of Death Overlaying n = 30 (60.0%) whole or part of a body, limb or breast, can cover the face, flex the neck or apply pressure to the chest or abdomen – by mother/father in a co-sleeping situation n = 25 (50%) – by sibling in a co-sleeping situation n = 4 (8%) Wedging n = 20 (40.0%) – entrapment between a hard sleeping surface and bedding n=10 (20%) e.g. mattress and cot/bed/couch – sleeping surface and wall n = 5 (10%) – couch/cushions/chair n = 5 (10%)

12 Circumstances of Death domestic chaos, mobile families – safe sleep not a high priority cannot find baby after death! apparent lack of knowledge about risks and safety – “stunned amazement” that baby was at risk shared sleep surface n = 34 (68%) Illness at time of death n = 8 (16%) pillows, bean bag, “complex” bedding unaccustomed caregivers

13 Why was infant in “harms way”? routine n = 13 (26%) breast feeding n = 8 (16%) – overlain by mother arm pit, under breast, face covering bottle feed n = 3 (6%) makeshift sleeping arrangements n = 8 (16%) – social gatherings, renovations, holiday – snugly kills moved to unsafe space to settle n = 3 (6%) nowhere else to sleep – too cold, overcrowded, alcohol impaired caregiver n = 4 (8%) – But data not collected systematically!

14 SUDI Spectrum in NZ Environmental Factors 10 SIDSSuffocation Vulnerability and Environment Conspire Together Infants under one who die without enough distress to alert caregivers Vulnerability or Disease – smoking especially before birth, preterm, growth retarded, infections, weak, floppy, other diseases Environmental factors – face covering, tummy sleeping, chest compression, neck compression, airway blockage, over heating Vulnerability or Disease

15 Suffocation in Place of Sleep - Real and Preventable “Get suffocation out of no-man's-land” – As part of SUDI missed by injury prevention workforce – Can be hidden in SIDS/unascertained as unpalatable Engage injury prevention workforce – By far the commonest cause of injury death under one – Work needed on consumer product safety

16 Mortality (%) in infants aged 28 days to < 1 yr New Zealand 2006–2010 (n=683 deaths) R95 SIDS 18.7% W75 Accidental suffocation in place of sleep 15.9%

17 Consistent and Persistent Safe Sleep Practices Maori community driven solutions – culturally appropriate, appealing, possible, easy Safe sleep for infants reprioritised – Model and support good practice at every opportunity Especially during health care – staff, training skills Policy, audit, record keeping – Antenatal preparation – Enable safe sleep – make doing the right thing easy – “we did it with car seats” Wahakura, Pepi-pods – Whole of society priority Health curriculum in schools to great grand parents! Every baby needs a sober caregiver

18 Unbroken Journey of Safe Sleep Support Antenatal – Natal – Postnatal - Infant 1.Needs Assessment – infant, mum, wider environment – wishes – reality of life 2.Planning – with family 3.Action – every baby has a place to sleep Free of people who might overlay the infant Free of gaps that could trap or wedge Firm Flat Free from objects that might cover the face – and it is used!

19 Conclusions The unexpected nature of SUDI can lead to the acceptance that these deaths “just happen” and families feeling disempowered. A substantial proportion of SUDI is preventable through addressing suffocation risks Families have the right to be – empowered by knowledge of the circumstances in which suffocation occurs – supported in having safe environments for infant sleep.

20 Acknowledgements Dr Rebecca Hayman Dr Stuart Dalziel Otago University Mortality Data group The PMMRC Local & National CYMRC Coordinators Local Groups and Chairs 500 plus Agents – Police, CYF, Plunket, St Johns, MOE, NGOs DHBs Coroners HQSC secretariat

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22 Wedging refers to an infant who was found with face, neck or chest trapped in a manner that would impede breathing and compromise the airway. Wedging had to occur between two sleeping surfaces, such as a mattress and a cot. Overlay refers to the situation where a co-sleeping partner has caused suffocation. Suffocation in place of sleep includes situations where the whole or part of a body, such as a limb or breast, can cover the face, flex the neck or apply pressure to the chest or abdomen of an infant making it harder to breath. Infants have few mechanisms to protect their own airway because of soft flexible tissues so even slight pressure on the nose or face or neck flexing can lead to suffocation.


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