More than half of sleep related deaths in Manitoba are First Nations infants

A new report from the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth released today with a focus on sleep related deaths in infants.

The report, a first-of-its-kind in Manitoba, gathered data from 1,000 infant deaths between 2009 and 2017.

From that number, the data revealed 145 of those deaths were sleep-related among infants under the age of two.

In each case, unsafe sleep environments were a factor in the deaths.

In 77 per cent of the deaths investigated, infants were found sleeping on unsafe surfaces like an adult mattress or couch.

Eighty-three of the 145 deaths were First Nations infants, which is an over representation according to Daphne Penrose, the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth.

“We found that you know accessibility to safe sleeping surfaces, overcrowding were part of why that was happening, and why we were seeing an over representation,” she said.

“Lack of health care services, all of the things that were related to you know colonization still you know really impacting infants and equal access to healthcare.”

Read the report here:

Safe and Sound: A special report on the unexpected sleep related deaths of 145 infants

She added overcrowding and a lack of public education were also factors in First Nation deaths.

Fifty-eight per cent of all deaths among infants happened in households that earned less than $35,000 annually.

The average age of the infants was 4 months, with most deaths occurring in the first three months of birth.

Eighty-four of the infants and their families were involved with Child and Family Services either at the time or one year prior to death.

Penrose made recommendations in the report some of which include the Government of Manitoba work in consultation with First Nations and Metis governments to ensure every infant under 24 months has a safe place to sleep.

Another recommendation is for a public education campaign to be carried out to increase the awareness of the known risk factors among sleep-related infant deaths.

Penrose added that every single one of the 145 deaths had at least one risk factor present. She said some people believe sleeping with their baby increases the interpersonal bond but it’s not the safest way for babies to sleep.

“What’s really important for people to understand is that kids need to be alone, on their back, in the crib for every sleep.”

Anchor / Winnipeg

Darrell is a proud member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. He is a graduate of the television program from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. He is returning to APTN after having completed an internship with us in 2018 and a brief stop as a reporter in B.C. in 2019.

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