Manitoba Indigenous infants more than half of sleep related deaths

MANITOBA — A new report from the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth released last Friday, on March 13, with a focus on sleep related deaths in infants.

A first-of-its-kind in Manitoba, the report gathered data from 1,000 infant deaths between 2009 and 2017. From that number, the data revealed 145 of the listed deaths were sleep-related among infants under the age of two. In each case, unsafe sleep environments were a factor in the deaths.

In 77 per cent of the deaths investigated, infants were found sleeping on unsafe surfaces like an adult mattress or couch. While 83, more than half, of the 145 deaths were First Nations infants, which is an over representation according to Daphne Penrose, the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth.

Overcrowding and a lack of public education were also factors in First Nation deaths.
Fifty-eight per cent of all deaths among infants happened in households that earned less than $35,000 annually.

The average age of the infants was 4 months, with most deaths occurring in the first three months of birth. Eighty-four of the infants and their families were involved with Child and Family Services either at the time or one year prior to death.

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