Most sleep-related infant deaths in Manitoba preventable: report

By | March 13, 2020

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Children’s Advocate released a special report today on the sleep-related deaths of 145 infants in the province, between 2009 and 2018.

“Most sleep-related infant deaths can be prevented,” reads the 101-page report entitled “Safe and Sound.”

According to the report, “In Canada, sudden and unexplained deaths remain the second leading cause of death for infants between the ages of one and 12 months.”

According to the study, the biggest risk factors include sharing a bed with an infant, placing objects like pillows next to babies as they sleep, and smoking during pregnancy.

The reports shows Indigenous infants are overrepresented in the number of deaths. Poverty is also a factor. The report found that nearly 60 per cent of sleep-related fatalities happened in neighbourhoods where the average household income was less than $35,000.

“In plain terms, families who experience lower socio-economic conditions and who may not be able to access infant supplies – like cribs or adequate housing for their family – also experience higher levels of sleep-related infant deaths.”

Of the 145 fatalities, 84 of the families had contact with CFS in the year before the baby’s death. “The review of deaths uncovered a number of missed opportunities to ensure the safety of infants.”

One of the report’s recommendations is that the Department of Families work with CFS to develop standards ensuring all workers “assess infant sleep environments as part of prescribed face-to-face contacts with infants.”

The full report can be found here.

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