Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths are defined as deaths in infants less than 1 year of age that occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death are not immediately obvious prior to investigation. Each year in the United States, more than 4,500 infants die suddenly of no immediately, obvious cause.
SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants aged 1–12 months, and is the third leading cause overall of infant mortality in the United States. For a medical examiner or coroner to determine the cause of the death, a thorough case investigation including examination of the death scene and a review of the infant’s clinical history must be conducted.

After a thorough case investigation, many of these sudden unexpected infant deaths may be explained. Half of these Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) are due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the leading cause of SUID and of all deaths among infants aged 1–12 months. Poisoning, metabolic disorders, hyper or hypothermia, neglect and homicide, and suffocation are all explainable causes of SUID. Even when a thorough investigation is conducted, it may be difficult to separate SIDS from other types of sudden unexpected infant deaths, especially accidental suffocation in bed.

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