SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant under the age of one which remains unexplained, even after the performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and a review of the clinical history. SIDS most often occurs during periods of sleep.
While SIDS is not a diagnosis, it is recognized as a medical disorder. The term is used when all known causes of death have been ruled out. It refers to a group of infants who, although they looked healthy, died suddenly and for which a known cause of death could not be found.
Other names for SIDS are crib death or cot death. SIDS is NOT a suffocation that could not be proven, but rather a medical condition that is not yet understood by science.
We don’t know the cause of SIDS. To this day, SIDS is not predictable and not preventable. It is the number one cause of death for infants under the age of one. It peaks between the ages of two and four months (70 p. cent of cases). 90 p. cent of SIDS happen before the age of six months.
While risk reduction strategies, including safe sleep practices, have helped lower the rate of SIDS in recent years, they cannot alone prevent SIDS. Risk factors are not causes. SIDS can happen to babies with known risk factors, as well as babies who have no known risk factors. And it can still occur, even when families and caregivers follow all recommended risk reduction strategies.
The only way that we will one day be able to prevent SIDS deaths is by finding, understanding and treating the underlying biological causes of SIDS.
Many researchers think that SIDS is not a single disease but rather is a result of multiple distinct disorders with specific molecular/genetic defects resulting in common end point. Current advances in molecular medicine indicate that an underlying biological abnormality due to genetic or molecular disorders (such as defects in cardiac or neuronal ion channels) may be responsible for a large proportion of sudden infant deaths. At present such studies are performed in a few research laboratories and genetic/molecular testing is not a part of routine sudden infant death investigations carried out by the coroners or medical examiners. Restricted access to tissues from SIDs victims and limited funding for research continue to be major obstacles for progress.
SIDS cannot be predicted or prevented at this time.
SIDS is not caused by neglect or child abuse.
SIDS does not appear to cause a baby suffering.
SIDs is not caused by suffocation, vomiting or choking.
SIDS is not contagious or infectious.
SIDS is not considered hereditary.
SIDS is not caused by vaccinations or by toxic gases.
SIDS is not a new medical problem, it has been around for many generations.
SIDS occurs rapidly and silently, usually during periods of sleep.
SIDS probably has more than one cause, although the final death mechanisms appear to be similar.
SIDS is not anyone's fault.
What are SUID and SUDI?
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) refer to the death of an infant younger than one year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, but for which a cause of death can often be found after a full investigation. SIDS is considered to be a type of SUID/SUDI.
What is SUDC?
Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) is the death of a child over the age of 12 months which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation and autopsy. As with SIDS, SUDC is a diagnosis of exclusion given when all known and possible causes of death have been ruled out. For more information on SUDC, visit: www.sudc.org.