All infant and child deaths need to be investigated in a systematic and standardized method. The SUDI forms provided by the CDC is the national standard approach to investigating these deaths. Frequently, a cause of death is determined after a thorough investigation and autopsy by a medical examiner and coroner. The deaths that remain unexplained are defined as SIDS. Therefore, SIDS is a type of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has developed the Sudden and Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) Investigation Reporting Form. The Reporting Form, a guide for its use and a training curriculum for infant death scene investigation are available online. The form will guide and standardize the work and practices of EMS professionals, law enforcement, death scene investigators, medical examiners and coroners, death certifiers and child death review (CDR) team members. Information obtained by using the form in infant death investigations can also be used to guide the development of strategies for the prevention of infant deaths.
All infant and child deaths need to be investigated in a systematic and standardized method. The SUDI forms provided by the CDC is the national standard approach to investigating these deaths.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history.
In the United States, SIDS is the major cause of death in infants from 1 month to 1 year. Most deaths occur between 2-4 months of age. Typically, a seemingly healthy infant dies suddenly and unexpectedly, usually during a period of sleep. A diagnosis is made after all the possible causes of death have been excluded. SIDS can occur in families of any race, socio-economic status, religion or nationality.
Causes of SIDS remain unexplained. However, SIDS is not caused by suffocation, child abuse, immunizations, vomiting, choking or by minor illnesses such as a cold or infection. SIDS is not contagious.
As talked about in this episode all child death investigations need to include scene reenactment photos of the position and place the child was last seen alive and the position and place they were found unresponsive. Using placed/found signs will help everyone viewing the photos to understand the reenactment.
Chief Forensic Investigator
St Louis Medical Examiner's Office