Sudden and unexpected deaths of children now double the national road toll

Red Nose – formerly SIDS and Kids – pledges to take number of sudden and unexpected deaths (3,200) to zero.

Parliament House, Canberra, Australia: 13 October 2016, 7.00am – Today, a new pledge is being made to Australian families by not-for-profit organisation, Red Nose (formerly SIDS and Kids), to reduce the nine sudden and unexpected deaths a day of children from 20 weeks in pregnancy to four years of age, to zero preventable deaths.

The pledge comes in light of an analysis of ABS data from the past four years1-4, revealing that 3,200 children die each year as a result of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) or Children (SUDC), stillbirth, as well as sudden accidental deaths such as drownings, poisonings and road accidents.

The newly named Red Nose joined Parliamentarians at Parliament House in Canberra today to raise awareness of all sudden and unexpected deaths happening around Australia alongside its new target of zero.

Red Nose National CEO, Associate Professor Leanne Raven, said the organisation’s new mission was a reflection of the need to broaden its scope and further understand and prevent sudden and unexpected deaths in children with a focus on those that are unexplained.

“Every day, nine Australian children from 20 weeks in pregnancy to four years of age die suddenly and unexpectedly. That’s more than double this country’s national road toll, which is not good enough when we know that many of these deaths are preventable.

“Over the last 40 years, we’ve worked tirelessly in Australia to reduce the incidence of SIDS by 80 per cent thanks to research and new knowledge underpinning our ‘Reduce the Risk’ public health program,” she said5-6.

“As an organisation, we are now looking to comprehensively address all sudden and unexpected deaths in babies and pre-school children in Australia and will continue to explore the root cause of sudden death in infancy as well as understand why late term stillbirth and other accidental deaths occur.

“Today, during International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness week, we are pledging to the Australian community to continue funding research to find out why these deaths are happening and stop families losing otherwise healthy babies and children; in essence, to replicate the success we’ve had with reducing sudden infant death.”

The organisation plays a vital role in providing grief and loss counselling and advice to bereaved families and friends. Today, Red Nose is also revealing a new online platform which supports families whose baby or child has died suddenly and unexpectedly, like the Mannings.

Melanie Manning and her husband, Sean, have become advocates for Red Nose’s research after their 15-month-old daughter, Mylee, died suddenly in her sleep four years ago. “We put our healthy, bubbly baby down to sleep, like we did every night. When we went to wake her in the morning, we instantly knew something was wrong – it’s a feeling no parent ever wants to feel.”

“What makes us truly upset is that there are still families going through what we did when Mylee died – we’ll do anything we can to support Red Nose in uncovering the causes of SUDI and SUDC and to uphold the legacy of all children who have died in similar circumstances.”

Assoc Prof Raven says the grief and loss platform, partially funded by the Department of Health will drastically expand the reach of the organisation in helping bereaved families.

“On the journey to reduce the number sudden and unexpected death in babies or children, we will not forget those who have experienced the death of a child. It is critical to provide bereaved families with the right support networks to help them move forward, but at the same time continue to honour the legacy of their child. This platform broadens our reach across Australia and allows families to access the support services they need.”

The organisation has invested $16.5 million into research and is currently funding four medical research projects, and will be funding more studies in the future so that Red Nose can prevent deaths and find answers for families.

Visit www.rednose.org.au to learn more or to find out how you can support Red Nose, its new research initiatives and the journey to zero.

Media contacts:

CANBERRA: For on the ground interviews or further information, please contact:

Sarah Robertson: 0419 410 901 | sarahr@keepleft.com.au

Tabitha Mathew: 0400 621 323 | tabitha@keepleft.com.au

MELBOURNE: For interviews, images, footage or further information, please contact:

Georgia Harrison: 03 9268 7800 | 0423 617 372 | georgia@keepleft.com.au

Jessica Pullar: 03 9268 7800 | 0478 848 826 | jessicap@keepleft.com.au

Statistics:

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) 3303.0 – Causes of Death, Australia, 2014 [full text].

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) 3303.0 – Causes of Death, Australia, 2015 [full text].

3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2015) Australia’s mothers and babies 2013 – in brief. Perinatal statistics series no. 31. Cat no. PER 72. Canberra: AIHW, pp42 [full text].

4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2016) General Record of Incidence of Mortality (GRIM) Books: All external causes of morbidity and mortality (ICD-10 V01–Y98), 1907–2013 [full text].

5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2003) SIDS in Australia 1981-2000: A statistical overview. ABS, Canberra [full text].

6. Includes calculations prepared by SIDS and Kid, confirmed by the ABS.

Background: Red Nose, formerly SIDS and Kids

SIDS and Kids is a highly respected not-for-profit founded in 1977. Its original charter was to help reduce the occurrence and impact of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The organisation has saved over 9,000 little lives over the past 26 years (after the introduction of Safe Sleeping) by providing parents and carers with safety advice and funding critical research into SIDS. It delivers on its vision through world class research, evidence-based education, bereavement support and advocacy. $16.5 million has been invested in research to date.

On October 15 2016, SIDS and Kids launched its new name, Red Nose, and new remit – to reduce the incidence of sudden and unexpected deaths in babies and pre-school children in Australia to zero.

Red Nose will continue to host its major fundraising and awareness appeal, Red Nose Day, on the last day of June every year. Red Nose is located in Melbourne with offices in each state.

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