Part 2: SIDS in South Africa

Part 2: SIDS in South Africa

In Part 1, we looked at the most recent report released by the American Academy of Paediatrics regarding the risks and recommendations surrounding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This advice may have shocked many South African families for whom co-sleeping and baby-wearing are a part of our daily lives.

In Part 2 we take a look at SIDS in South Africa and safe to sleep practices in countries beyond the borders of the USA.

There is very little research available about the incidence of SIDS here in South Africa, where infants are more likely to die from infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis and HIV and fatal injuries due to drownings, car accidents and fires.

In general, Asian and African countries reported a lower incident rate of SIDS compared to the Western world. They also have the highest incidence of co-sleeping. Are Africans co-sleeping in a different way to Americans and could co-sleeping actually be a protective factor for South African babies?

In America, there are 0.5 deaths per 1000 live births. In Zimbabwe, the incidence is only 0.2 deaths per thousand live births in black township communities. In South Africa, statistical data showed a rate of 1.06 deaths per 1000 live births for white babies, but only 0.3 deaths per thousand for black infants.

This means that the majority of South African babies are less at risk of SIDS than American babies despite the common practice in Zimbabwean and South African townships where babies do not have their own room and co-sleeping is the norm.

Because of these cultural differences, the Child Safe campaign (a South African initiative)  is a great place for South African families to gather advice on how to keep their babies and children safe at home.  The Child Safe campaign recommends avoiding any product with loose fittings and strings and staying away from non-breathable fabrics that could cause your baby to overheat. The Sealy Cot mattress takes this into consideration in its design – the mattress is breathable but also easily cleaned with the wipe of a cloth.
Another sleep safe initiative may be the simplest of all: A cardboard box.  Finland recently introduced the Maternity Box, a cardboard box that gives all Finnish babies a safe place to sleep for their first six months. The country has seen a significant reduction in infant mortality rates.


Read Part 1: What parents can do to prevent the risk of SIDS

Written by Roxanne Atkinson