After a baby’s born, most parents are really good about taking the child to the doctor for wellness visits. Nancy L. Swigonski, MD, professor of Pediatrics at IU School of Medicine, suggests that screening parents at the baby’s wellness visits at one-month, two-months and four-months—for smoking, depression, nutrition and other health factors—and providing safe sleep information may help improve risk factors associated with this period of risk for infant mortality.
While nearly half of all infant mortality cases are related to perinatal risks, the other half result from factors that exist after a baby’s born. SUIDs (sudden unexplained infant death), assaults and accidents, congenital malformations, and other causes, including infections, make up the other half of infant mortalities.
Sudden Unexplained Infant Death
Sudden Unexplained Infant Death, or SUID, is the death of an infant <1 year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death is not immediately obvious before investigation. About 14 percent of infant mortality cases (one out of eight) is considered sudden unexpected infant death. Most, if not all, of these deaths are completely preventable and related to unsafe sleep.
For example, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed occurs when an infant is suffocated by soft bedding, such as a pillow or blanket that covers an infant’s nose and mouth, or by a person rolling on top of or against the infant. Infant suffocation also occurs as a result of wedging or entrapment, when an infant is between two objects such as a mattress and wall or a bed frame. Strangulation occurs when an infant’s head and neck become wrapped in blankets or tangled in car seat straps.
IU School of Medicine is conducting training throughout Indiana with different people and crime scene investigations to better identify the cause of infant deaths related to unsafe sleep and other types of Sudden Unexplained Infant Death. School faculty train and collaborate with EMS personnel as well as child protective services.