The environmental niche of Aboriginal infants, possible implications for sudden infant death syndrome

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Wilson, C. Elizabeth.
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The recorded rates of Sudden infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are highest among Aboriginal infants. In non-Aboriginal communities, the rate of SIDS has decreased after interventions into infant care practices, such as sleeping infants in the supine position. Prior to intervention, it is necessary to know the infant care strategies utilized by a community. Based on seventy reserve interviews, this research project gives a detailed report of infant care practices currently used by contemporary Aboriginal mothers. Nineteen senior women were also interviewed in order to facilitate a comparison between traditional and contemporary practices. The results indicate that traditional infant care practic s used fifty years ago are still prevalent in contemporary Aboriginal communities. These traditions include supine sleeping position, co-sleeping, swaddling and breastfeeding. The research reveals that the majority of contemporary Aboriginal infants sleep supine, are swaddled, are breastfed and co-sleep. The traditional swing, in which infants also sleep supine, continues to be used. Investigations were also carried out on the general residential environment of the infant, which revealed alarmingly high levels of air pollutants, including fungi and bacteria.