A review panel on sudden infant deaths has issued a list of new recommendations following a report that found many of the same findings of a previous government review of infant mortality.
Each year, approximately 23 infants under the age of one die unexpectedly during sleep in B.C., according to the BC Coroners Service.
The death review panel identified the need for more supports and awareness, with three key recommendations to reduce the number of sleep-related sudden infant deaths:
• More support from trained health-care providers, such as public health nurses, for expectant mothers;
• Continued and consistent accessible messaging related to infant sleep practices;
• A provincial approach to reviewing infant deaths, including expanding investigative protocols.
The review of 141 sleep-related sudden infant deaths between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2018, found infants continue to die under the same circumstances identified by a death review panel that examined deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012.
This latest review also found deaths of infants were disproportionately more common among young families with risk factors such as exposure to tobacco and sleep position, combined with other health issues.
Panel members found there is a lack of capacity to deliver universal public health services and insufficient ability to provide enhanced services in situations when a vulnerability is identified.
The death review panel, chaired by Michael Egilson, included 19 panel experts with expertise in youth services, child welfare, maternal health, medicine, nursing, public health, Indigenous health, injury prevention, income support, law enforcement and health research.
“Something that stood out for us is that there are many parallels to the findings from our death review panel into these deaths five years ago,” Egilson said.