18 Mar 2013

Safe sleeping for babies 'needs addressing'

6:15 pm on 18 March 2013

A child health expert is urging Maori communities to consider what more they can do to provide safe sleeping situations for young babies.

A report released on Monday by the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee says accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed was higher among Maori babies than any other ethnic group during a seven-year period until 2009.

The committee chairperson, paediatrician Nick Baker, says suffocation is increasingly being seen as a leading cause of sudden unexpected death in infants, or Sudi.

He says Maori infants are eight times more likely to experience accidental suffocation.

Dr Baker says Maori communities should consider how they can address Sudi in a different way.

Meanwhile, an Auckland regional Maori health provider is encouraging whanau to provide better care for babies.

Hapai Te Hauora Tapui, set up in 1996, is a collaboration between three iwi, including Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua.

The tribe's Maori public health team leader, Antony Thompson, says Hapai is engaging with Maori communities including kohanga, kura and marae to promote ways of looking after infants - including giving advice on putting a baby to bed and how to feed an infant.