Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)

This section presents data and statistics on sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). You can download factsheets from the Downloads box.

Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of SUDI in young children [1].  In particular, evidence shows an increased risk of SUDI for infants whose mother smokes [2].

There were 48 deaths from SUDI in 2017

In 2017, 48 children under one year of age (<1 year) died from SUDI in New Zealand compared to 41 deaths in 2016 (Figure 1), which is a rate of 0.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. 

Figure 1: Number of SUDI deaths, 2008–2017

Over the ten years 2008–2017, the SUDI rate has remained relatively steady (Figure 2). 

Figure 2: SUDI deaths in children aged <1 year, 2008–2017 (rate per 1,000 live births)

Fig 2: SUDI deaths per 1,000 live births, 2013–17

Source: Ministry of Health (2020)

Pacific and Māori babies dying at a higher rate

In 2013–17, Pacific (1.5 per 1,000 live births) and Māori babies (1.4 per 1,000 live births) had five times the rate of SUDI as European/Other babies (0.3 per 1,000 live births) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: SUDI deaths in children aged <1 year, by prioritised ethnic group, 2013–17 (rate per 1,000 live births)

Fig 3: SUDI deaths per 1000 live births, by ethnic group, 2013–17

Source: Ministry of Health (2020)

Babies of younger mothers were most at risk

SUDI rates were higher for babies whose mothers were younger than 25 years old in 201317 (Figure 4).

Figure 4: SUDI deaths in children aged <1 year, by maternal age, 2013–17 (rate per 1,000 live births)

Fig 4: SUDI deaths per 1000 live births, by maternal age, 2013–17

Source: Ministry of Health (2020)

The highest SUDI rates occurred in the most deprived areas

The SUDI rate was 15 times higher in the most deprived areas (quintile 5) than in the least deprived areas (quintile 1) (Figure 5).

Figure 5:  SUDI deaths in children aged <1 year, by NZDep2013 quintile, 2013–17 (rate per 1,000 live births)
Fig 5: SUDI deaths per 1,000 live births, by NZDep 2013 quintile, 2013–17

Source: Ministry of Health (2020)

Tairāwhiti DHB had a relatively high SUDI rate

In 2013–17, the SUDI rate in Tairāwhiti DHB (2.2 deaths per 1,000 live births) was three times the national rate (0.7 per 1,000 live births).

See the factsheet for more details (in the Downloads box).

Information about this data 

Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)

Source: Ministry of Health [3]

Definition: Deaths in children aged under one year of age (<1 year old) with an underlying cause of death in the following ICD-10AM codes: R95, R96, R98, R99, W75, W78, W79. Rates are presented per 1000 live births.

For more information, see the metadata sheet. 

References

1. US Department of Health and Human Services. 2007. Children and Secondhand Smoke Exposure. Excerpts from The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. 

2. Anderson HR, & Cook, D. 1997. Passive smoking and sudden infant death syndrome: review of the epidemiological evidence. Thorax, 52, 1003-1009.

3. Ministry of Health. 2020. Fetal and Infant Deaths web tool. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
URL: https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/fetal-and-infant-deaths-web-tool 

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