Sudden Unexpected Infant Death: A Compassionate Forensic Approach to Care

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<p>Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), and more specifically sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), is the leading cause of death of infants outside of the neonatal period in the United States. In approximately 10%-20% of cases of SUID a specific cause of death is identified. In the majority of cases, however, a thorough investigation including autopsy, examination of the death scene and a review of the clinical history fails to identify a specific cause of death and a diagnosis of SIDS is made. The possible causes of SIDS are numerous, and to date, there is no adequate unifying pathological or genetic explanation. All families of young infants should be counseled on the known modifiable risk factors of SIDS and SUIDS including safe sleep environment, smoking, and pacifier use. Responding to a SUID in the emergency department presents challenges from an emotional, cultural, procedural and legal perspective. A team-based approach to provide family-centered care that is personal, individualized, compassionate and culturally sensitive is recommended.</p>


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