An Australian Perspective

An Australian Perspective Book Section

SIDS Sudden Infant and Early Childhood Death: The Past, the Present and the Future

  • Author(s): Freemantle, Jane, Ellis, Louise
  • Secondary Author(s): Duncan, JR, Byard, RW
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: University of Adelaide Press, Adelaide (AU)
  • ISBN: 9781925261684

Abstract: An accurate picture of mortality informs a society as to its social progress within each community, as mortality is a key indicator of effective public health policies and programs. Data on the causes of sudden infant and childhood mortality also reflect a broader set of social, economic, and political issues (1). As an example, sudden infant and child mortality is a key indicator of an important public health issue, given that some of the causes of infant and childhood mortality are potentially preventable. Effective prevention strategies and relevant health policy require a comprehensive and accurate profile of mortality, which, in turn, requires a better understanding of the epidemiology and mechanisms involved. This profile should include not only the patterns and trends of mortality over time, but also measurements of the indicators that have the potential to contribute to premature mortality among infants and children. These factors should include perinatal, maternal, and infant indicators; the specific causes of death; and the role of the geographical location as an indicator of excess sudden infant and child mortality (2). This chapter will outline the Australian perspective associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sudden infant and early childhood death. It will comment on the patterns and trends of sudden infant and early childhood mortality reported for all Australians and then focus on the First Peoples of Australia, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, within the limitations of the availability of an accurate ascertainment of the Indigenous population. With respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in this chapter the authors follow the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) principal that “[t]o acknowledge the separate Indigenous peoples of Australia, the term ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’ is preferred ... [H]owever, the term ‘Indigenous’ is used interchangeably when referring to Indigenous status or when assists readability” (3). The chapter will conclude with a case study that describes a health promotion project that was introduced in Western Australia (WA) in 2005: Reducing the Risks of SIDS in Aboriginal Communities (RROSIAC). This project addresses the high rates of sudden unexpected death in infants (SUDI) in WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural and remote communities, which have continued despite decreasing rates among non-Indigenous communities following the Red Nose SUDI risk reduction campaigns. It also provides an example of the use of linked population data to more accurately ascertain the impact of public health interventions among minority populations.

Cite this document

Suggested Citation
Freemantle, Jane, Ellis, Louise, 2018, An Australian Perspective, Book Section, viewed 13 June 2024,

Endnote Mendeley Zotero Export Google Scholar

Share this page

Search again