19 Dec 2012

Guidelines wanted on safe sleeping with babies

8:07 pm on 19 December 2012

An Auckland coroner has called for national guidelines on safe sleeping for adults and babies, following findings on the deaths of two infants from accidental asphyxiation.

Coroner Katharine Greig found that both babies died while in bed with their mothers.

The first baby, Pauliasi Haukinima, was taken by his mother Meleana into her bed at Auckland City Hospital in the early hours of 11 January 2010 to be breastfed.

She fell asleep with him and woke two hours later to find him unresponsive.

The second baby - who, along with her parents, has name suppression - died on 2 February 2011 at Birthcare Auckland where she had been taken for post-natal care.

Her mother breastfed her in her bed at 1.30am and a nurse put the infant back in a cot two hours later. At 8.20am the mother found the baby unresponsive.

Coroner Katharine Greig concluded the baby died while in bed with her mother.

Ms Greig has recommended that along with national guidelines all District Health Boards must implement a safe sleeping policy.

She also notes that among industrialised nations New Zealand has the highest rate of sudden death in infancy.

The board's director of child health, Dr Richard Aickin, says the board has reviewed its policy to ensure parents get good advice.

"That where parents are rooming with babies in the neo-natal unit that we give strong advice about not co-sleeping."

Dr Aickin says staff will receive training to ensure their messages are consistent.