Understanding the Problem

In 2014, there were about 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States. SUID is the death of an infant less than 1 year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death is not immediately obvious before investigation. Most SUIDs are reported as one of three types.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

  • The sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. About 1,500 infants died of SIDS in 2014. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old.

Unknown Cause

  • The sudden death of an infant less than 1 year old that remains undetermined because one or more parts of the investigation was not completed.

Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed

  • The sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that can happen because of
    • Suffocation by soft bedding—for example, when a pillow or waterbed covers an infant’s nose and mouth.
    • Overlay—when another person rolls on top of or against the infant while sleeping.
    • Wedging or entrapment—when an infant is wedged between two objects such as a mattress and wall, bed frame, or furniture.
    • Strangulation—for example, when an infant’s head and neck become caught between crib railings.

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