- 4,929 SUID cases reviewed in study
- 72% of all cases occurred with infants in unsafe sleep circumstances
- 75% of unsafe sleep deaths were linked to soft bedding
Research commentary background: an analysis of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) data
In April 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study in Pediatrics that analyzed seven years of data from their Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) Case Registry.
SUID broadly defines the death of an infant under 1 year old that occurs under explained or unexplained circumstances, categorized by the following subgroups:
- Explained accidental suffocation - airway obstruction from overlay, soft bedding, or wedging or entrapment – considered preventable deaths
- Unexplained causes - sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unknown or undetermined causes
The study reviewed rates of SUID and identified associated demographic and medical factors. There were 4,929 SUID cases identified during the study period, which spanned from 2011-2017.
Mortality rates per 100,000 live births
- 97.3 overall SUID
- 79.6 unexpected SUID
Sunah Hwang, MD, MPH, PhD, a neonatologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine authored a commentary in the Pediatrics journal about the study’s findings. Dr. Hwang’s own research focuses on SUID/SIDS, safe infant sleep, disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes and transition from hospital to home for high-risk infants.
She identified three critical opportunities for the medical community to impact SUID rates:
- Consistent data collection and reporting for all SUID cases
- Engaging families of preterm infants and infants with recent illness given their over-representation in SUID cases
- Advocating for the ban of infant products that are marketed for use during infant sleep but are unsafe
Consistent data collection and reporting for SUID cases
SUID rates have not decreased for more than two decades, and almost 3,500 U.S. infants each year. SIDS and unintentional injuries are among the top causes of death in infants and newborns beyond 28 days of age. The rates are calculated by death certificate information but cause of death can be subjective and inconsistent.
In 2009, the CDC created the SUID Case Registry to supplement death certificate information and improve understanding of SUID. The population-based surveillance system is built on Child Death Review programs and uses data from multiple sources, including death certificates, scene investigations and autopsy reports.
The registry includes a standardized classification system and algorithm to better categorize and monitor SUID and its subgroups. Currently, only 18 states and jurisdictions, representing 30% of all SUID cases in the U.S, participate in the registry.