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About SUID and SIDS

Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby’s sleep area. Learn more about the problem and CDC activities.

Understanding the Problem

About 3,500 babies in the United States die suddenly and unexpectedly each year. A thorough investigation is necessary to learn what caused these deaths. Sudden unexpected infant deaths include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment, and other deaths from unknown causes. Although the SUID rate has declined since 1990s, significant racial and ethnic differences continue. See Data and Statistics for more information about trends and SUID by race and ethnicity.

Different practices in investigating and reporting SUID can affect the ability to reliably monitor SUID trends and risk factors at the state and national level. Additionally, because parents or caregivers do not usually see these deaths as they happen, investigators may not be able to get a clear description of the circumstances surrounding the death, which are necessary for determining the cause.

What Is CDC Doing About SUID and SIDS?

CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health (DRH) provides scientific leadership in SUID by sharing the most up-to-date information about SUID rates and circumstances linked with SUID. CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health also has SUID monitoring programs in 16 states and 2 jurisdictions, covering 30% of all SUID cases in the United States. Participating states and jurisdictions work to improve data quality on SUID cases. This effort leads to a better understanding of circumstances that may increase the risk of SUID. Program awardees also use data about SUID trends and circumstances to carry out strategies to reduce future deaths. In addition, CDC collaborated with a number of organizations and subject matter experts to develop training materials and a reporting form for investigators.

CDC supports the 2016 recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. Caregivers can visit How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained to find out more about these recommendations. CDC collaborates with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in its Safe to Sleep® campaign, formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign. The Safe to Sleep® campaign has outreach activities to spread safe sleep messages and educational materials about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths. Learn more about CDC resources, publications, and activities to address SUID and SIDS.

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