Sudden infant death syndrome risk factors in north Queensland: a survey of infant-care practices in Indigenous and non-Indigenous women

K. S. Panaretto, V. E. Smallwood, P. Cole, J. Elston, J. S. Whitehall

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Objective: To assess the prevalence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk factors in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community of Townsville, a large remote urban centre in north Queensland, Australia. Methods: Thirty Indigenous and 30 non-Indigenous women with young children were surveyed using sections of the West Australian Infancy and Pregnancy Survey 1997-1998. The prevalence of SIDS risk factors was compared between the two groups and medians and univariate associations were generated where appropriate. Results: The Indigenous women were significantly younger and more likely to be single. The median age of the infants was 8 months (range 0.3-26 months) with no difference between the two groups. Thirty-seven per cent of Indigenous infants slept prone (cf. 17% of non-Indigenous infants; P = 0.03), and 77% shared a bed (cf. 13% of non-Indigenous infants; P < 0.001). The Indigenous households had significantly more members, with 57% including extended family members (cf. 20% non-Indigenous group; P = 0.003). Fifty-three per cent of the Indigenous women smoked during pregnancy (cf. 23% of non-Indigenous women; P = 0.017), 60% were smokers at the time of the interview, and smoking occurred inside 40% of Indigenous houses (cf. 20% and 20% for non-Indigenous women, respectively; P < 0.001, 0.09). Conclusion: This small survey suggests that the prevalence of SIDS risk factors is higher in the Indigenous population, and a new approach to education is needed urgently to promote SIDS awareness among Indigenous women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-134
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal infants
  • Co-sleeping
  • Smoke exposure
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

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