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​Safe Sleep: Clinical Resources

Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) including SIDS is applied to any death of an infant that died suddenly and was unexplained after a death scene investigation and an autopsy.  In the first year of life, SIDS is the third-leading cause of death overall, and suffocation comprises over 81% of all unintentional injury deaths. 


Figure 1 SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Files 
This chart shows the breakdown of sudden unexpected infant deaths by cause in 2017. 38% of cases were categorized as sudden infant death syndrome, followed by unknown cause (36%), and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (26%). 


The “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1990s was widely hailed as successful, as the SIDS rate declined 53% from 1992 to 2001. Despite this success, the combined term SIDS/SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) remains the leading cause of post neonatal mortality. 


Figure 2 SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Files 
This graph shows the trends in sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) rates in the United States from 1990 through 2017. 

Sleep related deaths have notable racial and ethnic disparities, with non-Hispanic blacks and American Indian and Alaskan Native infants experiencing a rate 2 times that of non-Hispanic white infants. Poverty is associated with a disproportionately high risk of suffocation related deaths as lack of an appropriate sleep space often leads to bed-sharing. 


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