Safe Sleep and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death-Preparing for Safe Sleep Awareness Month in October

Sarah Lazarus, MD

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) as “the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation.” SUID is routinely classified as: 1) sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), 2) accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ASSB), or 3) death from unknown causes. Each year, around 4,000 U.S. babies die from SUID, making it an important topic to understand and effect change. In Georgia, there are three deaths every week from SUID. Between 1990 and 1999, the SUID rate drastically declined following numerous safe sleep campaigns, the most notable being the “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1994. In 2012, the AAP expanded their focus to include environmental recommendations (such as sleep location and environment) and renamed it the “Safe to Sleep” campaign. Since 1997, SIDS deaths have become less common; however, rates of infant death due to unknown causes and ASSB are stagnant. With proper safe sleep education and adherence to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations, the risk of sleep-related infant death can be reduced.