What is Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood?

You have most likely heard of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, but there is far less awareness of sudden death that occurs in children. What is Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood, you ask? It affects older children and has no known cause or cure. There’s very little information on this condition, but with future research there can hopefully be more understanding for parents.

An estimated 200 children over the age of 12 months die each year in the U.S. unexpectedly from SUDC. Among these, 79% of deaths occurred at home. When there is no determined cause of death after investigation, it is ruled as Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood. Unlike SIDS, SUDC has not been as widely researched. While it is beginning to gain recognition, there is still a rising need to raise awareness and advocacy for this devastating condition.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to find their child lifeless. It’s even scarier when there’s no explanation for it. You can do everything right as a parent and it can still happen to anyone. There are risk factors of SIDS that parents can take necessary preventative measures to reduce their baby’s risk. However, since SUDC has no known cause, there are no preventative measures that can be taken outside of normal safety precautions to help in reducing a child’s risk. The SUDC Registry and Research Collaborative helps to assist families in conducting research and studying deaths in these children to find potential risks that could lead to future prevention.

In the meantime, there are ways we can help. Fundraisers and events have helped in raising money in order to help fund and support research for such tragic deaths. Reviewing a deceased child’s medical history and postmortem exams can help researchers in identifying possible causes and if there’s a chance it can occur in subsequent siblings.

The SUDC Foundation provides grief services for parents who may be dealing with this as well as promoting advocacy and raising awareness. The more we can get the word out on this condition, there can be more support in helping find causes and prevention so that no family ever has to bear the heartbreaking task of burying their child with unanswered questions.

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