Pregnancy and child birth are some of the most exciting times in the lives of families, but sometimes, not everything goes to plan. There is nothing more devastating than losing a child during pregnancy, or experiencing the death of a child during its infancy. In Australia in 2016 (most recent data), there were 2849 perinatal deaths, including 742 neonatal deaths (deaths within 28 days of birth) and 2107 stillbirths.
Although these statistics seem high, the good news is that since 1989, the rate of Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI) and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) has decreased by 85%, and an estimated 10,329 lives have been saved since a number of education and risk reduction campaigns were introduced.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a movement that originated in America, but is today recognised worldwide. It is a time to recognise and promote the importance of early and ongoing support for the 1 in 4 Australian parents who experience the loss of a baby. Coinciding with a month of awareness, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
On this day, families across the globe are encouraged to light a candle in remembrance at 7pm. Burning a candle for one hour would create a continuous wave of light across the world for 24hrs, symbolising the importance of these children.
Studies show that up to 15% of SUDI and SIDS deaths are associated with specific genetic diseases.
A study undertaken in 2017 revealed that genetic screening could be instrumental in the further prevention of these devastating deaths.
Total DNA Services offers two genetic tests that can provide peace of mind to expecting parents, and those of infants.
The Prenatal Peace screening test is 100% safe, and does not involve the removal of amniotic fluid from the uterus, as performed during an amniocentesis.
It is important to note that this test is not a diagnostic test, and cannot replace an amniocentesis or a chorionic villus sampling. Prenatal Peace screens for 18 genetic conditions, and can be taken from as early as 10 weeks after conception. The Newborn Genetic Test with NOVA is suitable for children up to 5 years of age, and tests for your baby’s risk of developing 50 inherited disorders.
These tests do not have the ability to prevent the unexplained death of an unborn baby or infant, but can screen for the predisposition or likelihood of genetic conditions such as a cardiac channelopathy, metabolic conditions, or seizure disorders. Children with these conditions are more vulnerable and at a greater risk of SIDS and SUDI, as their health is already compromised.
Total DNA Services provides results in a timely manner, and all results are analysed by our scientists, using Next Generation Sequencing Technology.
So how can you help? Thankfully, there are a number of ways that you can help fund research, support grief counselling, and show that you care about families affected by SUDI and SIDS.
- Donate to Red Nose Day: Perhaps Australia’s most recognised advocate of SIDS and SUDI. Even though Red Nose Day is in August, you can donate, buy merchandise or fundraise all year round. Go to https://rednose.org.au/ to see how you can help. The website also has a wide range of information about grief, as well as shared experiences from people who have lost a baby.
- Bears Of Hope: Providing support and care for bereaved families, Bears of Hope allow a bereaved family to gift a special bear to another grieving family, showing them that they are not alone during their time of loss. Anyone can purchase or donate a Bears of Hope Gift Package, which offers comfort, healing and hope to affected families.
During Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, show you care about families who have experienced the most harsh of losses; that of an unborn baby or infant.