26 Mar 2013

Doctor slates blood tests for SUDI cases as draconian

7:03 pm on 26 March 2013

A doctor who has first-hand experience of Maori Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy cases, or SUDI, has labelled as 'draconian' a call to blood test some bereaved parents.

His comments come after a leading paediatrician, Dr Nick Baker, said legislation should be introduced allowing police to conduct blood tests and prosecute those parents who seriously endanger their child.

But the clinical director of a Mangere healthcare centre, Dr Nathan Joseph, says Dr Baker's demand is draconian and questions whether sniffer dogs in grieving parents' homes will be next.

Dr Joseph says he has supported a number of parents whose babies have died from SUDI and dragging them through the court system is punitive and counter-productive as they are already blaming themselves for the tragedy.

He says supporting these families is key to changing their behaviour around sleeping with their babies.

Dr Joseph warns that although it is a cultural tradition, parents should not do it unless they buy or build a waha kura (pod).

There are 60 deaths from SUDI, previously known as cot death, per year, with 30 to 40 of those being Maori babies.