Trends in the Incidence of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death in the Newborn: 1995-2014

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the epidemiology of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) over a 20-year period in the US, to assess the potential frequency of sudden unexpected postnatal collapse in the early days of life, and to determine if SUID rates in the neonatal period (0-27 days) have changed in parallel with rates in the postneonatal periods, including the percentages attributed to codes that include accidental suffocation.

Study design

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Linked Birth/Infant Death Records for 1995-2014 were analyzed for the first hour, day, week, and month of life. A comparison of neonatal and postneonatal data related to SUID, including accidental suffocation, was carried out.

Results

Death records for 1995-2014 indicate that, although SUID rates in the postneonatal period have declined subsequent to the 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics sleep position policy change, newborn SUIDs have failed to decrease, and the percentage of SUIDs attributed to unsafe sleep conditions has increased significantly in both periods; 29.2% of the neonatal cases occurred within the first 6 days of life.

Conclusions

The frequency of SUIDs during the neonatal period warrants ongoing attention to all circumstances contributing to this category of deaths. The development of a standardized definition of sudden unexpected postnatal collapse and a national registry of these events is recommended. Ongoing research on the effects of early neonatal practices on postneonatal SUID should also be encouraged.

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