Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – What’s the difference?

August 30, 2022

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is a broad term that includes any sudden, unexplained death of an infant in which postmortem examination does not reveal evidence to explain the cause of death. SUID encompasses deaths due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ASSB), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ill-defined deaths, unintentional injuries, and other specified causes.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is one type of SUID. It is defined as the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age that remains unexplained after a complete autopsy and death scene investigation. It is most often caused by babies suffocating while sleeping on their stomachs or sides. 

Babies might have a higher risk of SIDS if:

  • their mother smoked, drank, or used drugs during pregnancy and after birth
  • their mother had poor prenatal care
  • they were born prematurely or at a low birth weight
  • there’s a family history of SIDS
  • their mothers were younger than 20 when they gave birth
  • they are around tobacco smoke after birth
  • they get overheated
  • they sleep on a soft surface
  • they sleep with soft objects or loose blankets and pillows
  • they sleep in a parent’s bed

The reality is both tragedies can be prevented if you keep your baby safe while sleeping. Reducing the risks are as easy as A,B,C. Alone. Back. Crib.

“Alone” – Infants should sleep alone in their own cribs or bassinets. Room sharing is OK; however, if you choose to share your room with your baby, keep him or her in your room and on a separate surface (such as a crib or bassinet) from where you sleep. 

“Back” – Always place infants on their backs for every sleep period until 1 year of age for every sleep period until 1 year of age – even when using a car seat, stroller or swing for naps and travel. This includes times when you lay them down to take a nap during the day or put them down for bedtime at night.

“Crib” – Babies should always be placed to sleep on a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet without any soft objects (pillows, stuffed animals) in the crib.

Sleep-related infant deaths can strike at any time, so it is important to share this information widely to help all families learn and practice Sleep Safe Baby education. If everyone works together we can help prevent SIDS and reduce the number of sleep-related infant deaths in Fresno. With Sleep Safe Baby, you are taking an active role in reducing risks to your baby.

The information shared in this is part of the Sleep Safe Baby Campaign with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sleep Safe Baby is an Infant Safe Sleep Public Education and Awareness Campaign funded by First 5 Fresno County. Our hope with Sleep Safe Baby is to shift cultural norms and everyday sleep practices to reduce SIDS in Fresno.

PLEASE SHARE this Information with other mamas, papas, grandmas, grandpas, caregivers, birthing coaches, doulas, and providers to help us protect babies and reduce SIDS.


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