Safe Sleep Day focuses on unexplained infant deaths

There is a call for Pacific peoples to rally around parents of newborns today, Safe Sleep Day.

My Baby's Village is an initiative led by the Pacific Infant Care Collective that aims to ensure Pacific parents of newborns have all the support they need to keep their baby safe.

The organisation said there has been a spike in unexplained deaths among infants across Auckland over the past two years.

SUDI, or Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy, describes when a baby dies from an unexplained cause or through accidental and preventable circumstances.

About half of the Auckland region's SUDI deaths each year are Pacific tamariki.

Police National Partnerships Manager for Pacific Peoples Superintendent Fata Willi Fanene said the call "for more support follows stubbornly high rates of Pacific infant SUDI across Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland over the last decade."

She said Pacific people make up almost 15 percent of Tamaki Makarau's population yet Pacific babies make up 40 to 50 percent of SUDI deaths in Auckland each year, with most in deprived areas.

Moana Research chief executive, Jacinta Fa'alili-Fidow, said the situation is preventable.

She said traditionally, the focus has been on providing safe sleep devices but investigations show that in two thirds of the cases where infants died, the families had a sleep device in their home.

Fa'alili-Fidow said “there are lots of different causes and there has to be some changes in our systems as well."

She said with Safe Sleep Day, they aim to bring the community together to try and stop these deaths occurring.

"So we have all come together really to recognise what is important to us as Pacific champions and what it is in our Pacific families that we need to be encouraging and supporting. And we really wanted to start with the fact that raising a baby, particularly in this day and age, has lots of challenges, is really difficult, is not easy," Fa'alili-Fidow said.