Sudden unexplained death in childhood

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Sudden unexplained death in childhood
Classification and external resources

Sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC) is the death of a child over the age of 12 months which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation and autopsy. There has not been enough research to identify risk factors, common characteristics, or prevention strategies for SUDC.

SUDC is similar in concept to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Like SIDS, SUDC is a diagnosis of exclusion, the concrete symptom of both being death. However, SIDS is a diagnosis specifically for infants under the age of 12 months while SUDC is a diagnosis for children 12 months and older. As the causes of both are still unknown, it is not yet possible to determine whether or not they are caused by the same factors.


Researchers are exploring a possible connection between sudden unexplained death in toddlers, febrile seizures, and hippocampal anomalies.[1][2]


SUDC is rare, with a reported incidence in the United States of 1.2 deaths per 100,000 children, compared to 54 deaths per 100,000 live births for SIDS.[3]

SUDC deaths have occurred at the following sites:[4]

  • Death at home, history provided: 79%
  • Crib or bassinet: 54%
  • Adult bed: 36%

The placed and found positions were as follows:

  • Placed supine, side, prone*: 10%, 2%, 3%
  • Found prone: 89%
  • Found face position: down, side: 10%, 8%
  • Co-sleeping, sweating when found: 3%, 1%

*applies only to youngest children


At the SIDS Alliance national convention in Atlanta, GA in 1999 Dr. Henry Krous gave a presentation titled "Post-Infancy SIDS: Is it on the rise?" This led to the beginning of the San Diego SUDC Research Project. The first definition of SUDC was published in 2005 in Pediatric and Developmental Pathology.[5][6]


  1. ^ Holm, Ingrid A.; Poduri, Annapurna; Crandall, Laura; Haas, Elisabeth; Grafe, Marjorie R.; Kinney, Hannah C.; Krous, Henry F. (1 April 2012). "Inheritance of Febrile Seizures in Sudden Unexplained Death in Toddlers". Pediatric Neurology. 46 (4): 235–239. doi:10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2012.02.007. PMC 4009678Freely accessible. PMID 22490769. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Kinney, Hannah C.; Chadwick, Amy E.; Crandall, Laura A.; Grafe, Marjorie; Armstrong, Dawna L.; Kupsky, William J.; Trachtenberg, Felicia L.; Krous, Henry F. (1 December 2009). "Sudden Death, Febrile Seizures, and Hippocampal and Temporal Lobe Maldevelopment in Toddlers: A New Entity". Pediatric and Developmental Pathology. 12 (6): 455–463. doi:10.2350/08-09-0542.1. PMC 3286023Freely accessible. PMID 19606910. 
  3. ^ "Fact Sheet - Sudden Unexplained Death In Childhood (SUDC)". Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood". Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "History - Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood". Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Krous, Henry F.; Chadwick, Amy E.; Crandall, Laura; Nadeau-Manning, Julie M. (14 July 2005). "Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood:A Report of 50 Cases". Pediatric and Developmental Pathology. 8 (3): 307–319. doi:10.1007/s10024-005-1155-8. PMID 16010494. Retrieved 27 February 2013.