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SIDS Facts

What Is SIDS?
What is SUID?
Post Mortem Examination
SIDS/SUID Research
National Healthy People Objectives 2020
California SIDS Data

Infant deaths are a critical indicator of our health status and social well being. The National Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has defined specific measurements known as the Healthy People Objectives 2020 to determine if we are making progress in reducing the number of infant deaths and improving the health and wellness of women, infants, children and families.

In the United States, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death for infants from one month to one year of age. SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history of the family and infant. Most deaths occur between two to four months. SIDS can not be prevented and there is no way to predict when it will happen. Researchers now know that certain factors can be changed or controlled while a mother is pregnant and in the early months after the baby is born that can lower a baby's risk of dying of SIDS. Examples of ways to reduce SIDS are to place babies on their backs to sleep, avoid exposure to overheating and tobacco smoke.

The Back to Sleep campaign was started in the early 1990's to emphasize the message that infants should be placed on their back to sleep. Since parents and caregivers began following this recommendation, the number of SIDS deaths has decreased by over 50 percent. Although great progress has been made to lower the incidence of SIDS, in recent years other sleep-related infant deaths including suffocation, asphyxia and entrapment have increased. Sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) which includes SIDS, unknown cases, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, took the lives of 93 infants per 100, 000 live births in 2006. For these causes of infant mortality, the 2020 Healthy People Objective is to reduce this number by ten percent. In 2006 there were as many as 55 infant deaths due to SIDS per 100,000 live births. The 2020 Healthy People Objective for this health indicator is to reduce the SIDS rate by 10 percent. Continued public awareness campaigns and educational outreach/intervention programs which promote safe sleep practices are essential if these goals are to be reached.

This section will provide you with current information about SIDS and other sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs), historical and current research, statistical SIDS/SUID data for the United States and California, and linkages to compare California's progress in meeting SIDS specific National Healthy People 2020 Objectives.

What is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)? View this online resource by the National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death and Pregnancy Loss Resource Center for a clear and concise overview of SIDS.

What is sudden unexpected infant death (SUID)? SUID is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant in which the manner and cause of death are not immediately obvious prior to investigation. How are SUID and SIDS different? Learn more about SUID and how investigations are conducted and SUID is diagnosed.

Visit the National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death and Pregnancy Loss Resource Center website for definitions of SIDS, SUID, Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood (SUDC), Fetal Death, Infant Mortality, Stillbirth, & Miscarriage and to download a helpful diagram of these terms.

Post Mortem Examination ~ Dr. Henry F. Krous is the past Director of Pathology Research, Rady Children's Hospital San Diego CA; Professor of Pathology UCSD School of Medicine; and Director of the San Diego SIDS/SUDC Research Project. He has more than thirty years of experience performing postmortem examinations, co-authored more than 300 research publications and interacted with countless families experiencing the sudden unexpected death of an infant. Dr. Krous has generously agreed to share his expertise by providing two helpful resources; one dealing with the post mortem examination and the other focusing on the diagnostic challenges in determining the cause(s) of sudden infant deaths.

SIDS/SUID Research ~ The National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death and Pregnancy Loss Resource Center maintains a listing of research bibliographies related to an array of SIDS and other sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs). These bibliographies present the latest citations from PubMed, the National Library of Medicine's premier database of biomedical literature. All entries are from English-language journals. The Resource Center's library contains historical as well as current SIDS/SUID research information including current publications for 2011 by topic.

National Healthy People Objectives 2020 ~ Established by the National Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) this ten year agenda identifies specific goals to improve the health and well being of women, infants, children and families and address current issues, trends, disparities and opportunities for these areas of focus.
  • National Healthy People Objectives 2020 ~ The targeted objectives aimed at reducing the rate of SIDS (MICH 1.8) and other sudden unexpected infant deaths (MICH1.9) are outlined in this document.
California SIDS Data includes the 2010 MCAH SIDS Bulletin and an array of statistical reports such as rate/number of SIDS deaths, race/ethnicity tables and county of residency data compiled by the California Department of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division.

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