Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Operation 400 blasts off in a bid to solve baby deaths
Thursday, 15 June 2006

MANY community members will swallow their pride and don a red nose on June 30 in a bid to solve the mysterious tragedy of Australia's stillbirths.

SIDS and Kids is launching 'Operation 400' as part of its 2006 Red Nose Day campaign.

Several Kalgoorlie-Boulder businesses are getting behind the fundraising event by selling Red Nose Day merchandise.

These include Coles, Harvey Norman, Hannans Foodmart, Guardian, Amcal and Friendlies pharmacies and local primary schools.

Red noses will sell for $2 each, bubble clocks for $10, pens for $5, Superhero bears for $7, pins for $5, awareness bracelets for $3 and yo-yos for $5.

SIDS and Kids Western Australia marketing manager Dee Taseff said the significance of ‘Operation 400' was that it focused on the number of mystery stillbirths that occurred annually and investigated its causes.

"Each year, on average, about 1300 babies are stillborn across the country and about 400 of those deaths cannot be explained, even after investigation and autopsies," she said.

"That's about one baby every day that dies in a mystery stillbirth.

"Losing a child is always heart wrenching, but not knowing why it's happened can be all the more traumatic."

Ms Taseff said Operation 400 would help piece together the puzzle of these tragedies by researching possible links between common viruses and stillbirth.

"Just as research and education programs have helped us win the war against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), we believe it can also help us bring down the high rates of stillbirth in Australia."

In the past 20 years, SIDS and Kids has injected more than $15 million into efforts to reduce SIDS.

Those programs have led to a 90 per cent reduction in the number of SIDS deaths, saving the lives of more than 4500 babies.

"We're relying on the support of all Western Australians during Red Nose Day 2006 as we continue to tackle SIDS and other unexpected deaths, such as stillbirths," Ms Taseff said.

SIDS and Kids WA offers support to anyone affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or child. This includes losses through miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death and accidents.

Along with education programs and research, money raised through Red Nose Day also funds the provision of free professional grief counselling (call 9474 3544 during office hours) and a 24-hour, seven-day peer support line to assist people who have lost a child from conception to the age of 12.

Phone 1 800 686 780 for this free service.

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