sudden unexplained death syndrome

Last reviewed 01/2018

Sudden infant death syndrome is the commonest cause of death in the first year of life, causing one to two deaths per thousand livebirths.

The incidence of sudden infant death has fallen in the past decade, and is currently steady at around 3 per 1000 live births

  • commonest at 3 months
  • more common in Winter and cities
  • Sweden has a 1/4 the rate of the UK

Recently much focus has been placed on the unknown subset of infants perishing from what has been described as sudden infant death syndrome, but who have in fact been the victims of more definable illnesses, including inborn errors of metabolism and abuse. It is for these potentially preventable reasons that sudden infant death syndrome should be regarded as a diagnosis of exclusion, and careful examination and investigation be carried out in each and every case. This is never more true than when more than one child in a family has died.