While the rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States has declined since 1995, a new study in the June 2017 issue of Pediatrics finds that significant disparities continue to exist between racial and ethnic groups.
The SUID rates consistently remained the highest for the American Indian/Alaska Native population, followed by non-Hispanic blacks, according to the study, "Racial and Ethnic Trends in Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths – United States 1995-2013," that analyzed U.S. birth-infant death data.
The study, published online May 15, evaluated SUID rates per 100,000 live births by race/ethnicity, finding that all SUID rates decreased after a 1994 Back-to-Sleep campaign raised awareness of safe sleep practices, such as infant sleep positioning and risks of soft bedding use and bed-sharing. Yet researchers found a unique trend within each racial-ethnic grouping that they conclude could be caused by biological and/or cultural differences that should be addressed in future research and targeted prevention messaging.
SUID is a term that encompasses sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and other ill-defined and unspecified causes of mortality.
The overall SUID rate has remained relatively stable since 2000 (93.4 per 100,000 live births.) The study found that most deaths occurred at 1-2 months of age, and the SUID rate was consistently higher for males among all races and ethnicities.
Editor's Note: A commentary, "Race, Ethnicity, and SIDS" also will be published in the June 2017 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 15).