Pasifika make up half of Auckland's 2021 sudden infant deaths

Source: 1News

Half of Auckland's sudden unexplained deaths in infancy last year were Pasifika, according to provisional data, but one organisation is hoping to reduce those numbers.

Provisional data from last year revealed Pasifika babies made up half of Auckland’s 20 SUDI deaths.

Pasifika-led My Baby’s Village is working with families to identify potential causes to sudden unexplained deaths in infancy (SUDI) amongst Pasifika children.

Jacinta Fa’alili-Fidow, chief executive of Moana Research, is one of the creators of the initiative, which provides parents with skills and support to create safer sleeping environments.

“It’s a tragic loss, any death of an infant is a tragic loss for us- so we wanted to look deeper into what else we could address,” she said.

Counties Manukau DHB, the New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki are amongst many organisations also involved in My Baby’s Village.

It’s believed overcrowded housing, fatigue and poverty are some of the contributing factors to the large number of deaths.

“In the last decade these figures have stagnated, but we know for sure that the environment’s changing, the context’s changing - we’re dealing with crowded houses and damp housing. That hasn’t shifted at all in the last decade, so there are a lot of broader determinants,” said Fa’alili-Fidow.

Parents Caleb Fa’alili and Erykah Lawrence have been learning skills from the organisation, which they said has helped them with safe sleeping for their two-year-old son, Luca, and their four-month-old daughter Sadie.

“When Luca was first born, we were pretty paranoid at night when we were sleeping. Just wondering if he was too hot, too cold, if his sleeping area was safe enough for him,” said Caleb.

“It’s been helpful, especially as young parents, to learn about safe sleeping and especially with new-borns, and to use your family to ask for help if you need some support as well.”

Fa’alili-Fidow is encouraging new parents to reach out to their families for support if needed.

“I think there certainly needs to be more, there’s certainly some awareness amongst most of our families but I don’t think there’s enough appreciation of the significance of ensuring our babies have a safe sleep every time.”