New toolkit promotes safe infant sleep among First Nations and Aboriginal families

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A new education toolkit is available in British Columbia to help service providers discuss safe infant sleep practices with First Nations and Aboriginal families and help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS is the death of a baby under one year of age, which is sudden, unexpected, and without a clear cause. SIDS usually happens during sleep or napping. Although the exact cause(s) of SIDS is unknown, there are clear safe sleep practices that reduce a baby’s risk for SIDS.

A BC Coroners Service report showed that over a five-year period, 30 per cent of infants who died in sleep-related circumstances were Aboriginal, despite making up only about eight per cent of the infant population. In response, a tripartite working group was formed among the First Nations Health Authority, Government of Canada, and the Government of BC to develop a culturally appropriate safe sleep training initiative that could be incorporated into existing programs and services.

Led by Perinatal Services BC, the working group collaborated with First Nations and Aboriginal Elders, community members, and content experts to develop Honouring Our Babies: Safe Sleep Cards & Guide—an interactive, evidence-informed toolkit that incorporates cultural beliefs, practices, and issues specific to First Nations and Aboriginal communities.

The toolkit includes a deck of 21 discussion cards and seven illustrated cards that can be used to prompt and guide discussions with families about safe infant sleep as well as a facilitator’s guide with more information on each card’s topic, research, resources, and graphics.

Honouring our Babies: Safe Sleep Cards & Guide can be downloaded from the First Nations Health Authority website at www.fnha.ca under What We Do / Child, Youth and Maternal Health.

Perinatal Services BC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides leadership, support, and coordination for the strategic planning of perinatal services in British Columbia in collaboration with regional health authorities and other key stakeholders. PSBC is the central source in the province for evidence-based perinatal information. For more information, visit www.perinatalservicesbc.ca.

The First Nations Health Authority is a health service delivery organization created and mandated to support BC First Nations to implement a number of guiding agreements and documents seeking to elevate BC First Nations health outcomes through the creation a more effective health care system. For more information, visit www.fnha.ca.

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