Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) is an umbrella term that describes the death of an infant which was not anticipated as a significant possibility 24 hours before the death, or where there was a similarly unexpected collapse leading to or precipitating the events which led to the death. SUDI captures both unexplained and explained causes of death during a baby’s first year of life that is unexpected. It is made up of three components which are, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Unintentional Suffocation, and Other Deaths.
SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This is where no identifiable cause of death can be found following autopsy, clinical history, and scene examination. These babies usually die in their sleep.
Unintentional suffocation - the second component of SUDI is unintentional suffocation where baby is in a position that causes asphyxiation in their sleeping environment. Examples of this are wedging or overlay. These incidents are explained.
Other deaths - the third component of SUDI is medical deaths such as heart disease, meningitis, pneumonia or infectious diseases. Conditions at time of death remained undiagnosed until the coronial process identified the cause. These incidents are explained.
As health professionals it is very important that we understand what SUDI is. However when dealing with whānau it is important to stress the point of safe sleep so that they understand how to protect their baby. At Whakawhetu we have created resources that centre around four key messages: P.E.P.E. If we can get families following these messages we will see the rate of SUDI drop from 60 babies a year to 6.