Background Between 1973 and 1979, Sheffield used a validated score applied at birth to provide support for families at risk of possibly preventable deaths. It was estimated that 20 lives were saved (Lancet 1983;1:727). Similar targeting programmes – CONI, West Virginia (Am J Public Health 1995;85:631) appear to prevent deaths, however they are expensive.
Aim Is there still a role for score based intervention programmes? The components of the original Sheffield Birth Score were retrospectively applied to 37 SUDI<1 year who had died between 2001 and 2008 and compared with 59 371 Sheffield survivors.
IDACI, a readily obtainable deprivation score based on postcode, did not improve the discrimination of the score after inclusion of mother's age and parity. Using the previous Sheffield intervention score of 500, 12% of the population would have been identified in which 43% of the SUDI occurred. If an intervention programme reduces the mortality in the screened population by 50% then the overall mortality (of SUDI) could have been reduced by 22%. Application of this old Sheffield Birth Score still appears to help identify populations at risk. It needs to be reviewed to assess the influence of new factors such as drugs and alcohol. Use of electronic antenatal records allows ready calculation of ‘Birth Score’. This information could be used to aid targeted intervention programmes aimed at reducing infant mortality.