Unsafe sleep factors common in sudden unexpected infant deaths

Unsafe sleep factors are common in explained and unexplained sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) cases (<1 year old), according to a study published online April 27 in Pediatrics.

Sharyn E. Parks, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues reported SUID rates for 2011 to 2017 by explained and unexplained categories using the CDC SUID Case Registry classification system.

The researchers found that 82 percent of the 4,929 SUID cases were categorized as unexplained. Seventy-three percent of all cases had complete case information. Seventy-two percent of SUIDs occurred in an unsafe sleep environment. The mortality rate for SUID was 97.3 per 100,000 live births. About 75 percent of the explained and possible suffocation deaths resulted from airway obstruction attributed to soft bedding.

“Unsafe sleep circumstances were common among SUID cases, but data could only explain why the death occurred in approximately one in five cases (i.e., those assigned to ‘explained, suffocation’),” the authors write. “Further analysis of unexplained SUID categories in the registry, augmented by continued improvements to death investigation and documentation, can generate hypotheses for physiologic or genetic research and advance our understanding of gaps in SUID investigation and groups at highest risk.”