SIDS claims the lives of almost 2,300 infants a year in the United States.

In Ohio, from 2009 - 2013, there were 140 babies who died from SIDS which is less than 3% of all deaths to infants under one year of age.  At least 46% of SIDS victims were exposed to smoke in utero or after birth.  Even though the SIDS rates have been reduced dramatically over the years, other causes of infant death such as accidental asphyxia and overlay have increased with the total number of SUIDs remaining relatively constant.  This reduction in SIDS deaths is often explained as a coding shift by medical examiners due to better death scene investigations.  Therefore, those deaths that were diagnosed as SIDS in the past are now being diagnosed as other types of SUID.   In Ohio, sleep related infant deaths account for 16% of all infant deaths reviewed (836 deaths from 2009 - 2013) and 46% (746) for infants aged 29 days to one year.  

More than three infant deaths each week are sleep-related!  

  • Forty-one percent (331) of deaths in a sleep environment were to black infants. This is disproportionally higher than their representation in the general infant population (18 percent).
  • 87% (730) of these sleep-related deaths occurred before 6 months of age and 51% (429) occurred before 3 months of age.
  • Often times, sleep related infant deaths are difficult to diagnose even after a complete autopsy and diagnosis.  Forty-six percent (383) of the sleep-related deaths were diagnosed as unknown or undetermined cause.
  • 46% (380) of the sleep-related infant deaths were to infants exposed to smoke either in utero or after birth.

Does the sleep environment make a difference?

We know that safest place for a baby to sleep is alone, on their back in a safety approved crib.  Tummy and side positions are not safe and there is a 40% increased risk of a sudden infant death if a baby shares a sleep surface with another person.

  • 56% (471) of sleep-related deaths occurred in adult beds, on couches or on chairs; only 26% (219) occurred in cribs or bassinets.
  • 51% (425) occurred to infants who were sharing a sleep surface with another person (bed sharing).  

Asphyxia is the leading cause of infant death due to external injury (61 percent of the infant deaths due to external injury). The next leading external cause of death is “undetermined” (19 percent of the infant deaths due to external injury). Many sleep-related infant deaths are preventable and you can reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by following the AAP recommendations.

Safe Sleep Guidelines

Ohio Child Fatality Review Fifteenth Annual Report (This report includes reviews of child deaths that occurred in 2013 and aggregate reviews for 2009-2013)