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Lisa Black

Sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) are a common cause of infant mortality, and significant decreases in SUID rates have not occurred since the 1990s. The study, “Explaining Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths, 2011-2017,” in the May 2021 issue of Pediatrics (published online April 27) analyzed more than 12,000 cases of SUIDS reported from 2011 to 2017 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s SUID Case Registry. They found unsafe bedding linked to about 72% of SUIDs. Of all SUIDs in the registry, 31% of cases were conclusively attributed to “suffocation” or “possible suffocation” and 41% were classified as “unexplained” but linked to “unsafe sleep factors.” Unsafe bedding was a cause of many of these deaths, with 75% of airway obstruction deaths attributable to soft bedding. Only 1-2% of the unexplained deaths in the SUID Registry noted no unsafe sleep factors. Researchers concluded that while the SUID Registry offers tremendous information, further research and improvements to death investigations and documentation are needed to help further improve safe sleep guidelines and educational efforts to prevent SUIDs.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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