Cot death expert recognised with award

30 August 2013
Professor Ed Mitchell
Professor Ed Mitchell

Paediatrician and clinical researcher, Professor Ed Mitchell from The University of Auckland, has been recognised for his significant contribution to understanding childhood asthma and reducing infant mortality from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by Australasia's largest specialist medical college.

Professor Mitchell has received the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ (RACP) prestigious Howard Williams Medal at the International Congress of Paediatrics in Melbourne this week where he also presented a keynote lecture titled 'Preventing the "Unpreventable": The Cot Death Story'.

Despite the large reduction in SIDS mortality which occurred in the early 1990s following the 'Back to Sleep' campaigns, SIDS remains the leading cause of death in the post neonatal age group.

In his keynote lecture to the Congress, Professor Mitchell made recommendations to prevent infant deaths in 2013, argued that SIDS is preventable, and that the application of what we already know could eliminate SIDS.

"The challenge is to find ways of implementing our knowledge," says Professor Mitchell.

The RACP's Paediatrics and Child Health Division President Associate Professor Susan Moloney applauded Professor Mitchell for his dedication to improving patient outcomes in his field of medicine highlighting his many achievements in the areas of childhood asthma and SIDS.

"Professor Mitchell has received international recognition for his work on the epidemiology and prevention of SIDS, which led the New Zealand Department of Health (now Ministry of Health) to develop and fund the successful prevention program in 1991, which reduced SIDS deaths in New Zealand from 250 a year to 60," said Associate Professor Moloney.

"In awarding this medal, the RACP was especially impressed by Professor Mitchell's contribution to the reductions in SIDS mortality in New Zealand and in other countries, “ she said.  "He has advised many countries, including Australia, on SIDS prevention and his contributions have enhanced our knowledge of the epidemiology of SIDS."

Professor Mitchell said he was honoured to be recognised by the RACP, and highlighted the importance of educating all health professionals that work with children as well as parents on child illnesses such as SIDS and asthma.

"It is a fantastic honour to be recognised by my peers and a tribute to the wonderful group of people I have had the privilege of working with over the years," said Professor Mitchell.

"We shouldn't lose sight of the many families who have lost their precious children, and yet have shared their experiences with us, so that we can learn to help future children. I sincerely thank them."

For more information contact:

Suzi Phillips
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences,Communications
The University of Auckland.