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Infant Mortality Awareness


  • Most deaths during the neonatal period are related to medical conditions or events that occur during pregnancy and delivery, while postneonatal deaths are more often associated with external causes and medical conditions unrelated to pregnancy.
  • The most common causes of infant mortality include preterm delivery, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or other Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), infections, unintentional injuries, and birth defects.
  • According to the Alaska Surveillance of Child Abuse and Neglect program (SCAN), 18.9% of all infant deaths in Alaska during 2004-2012 were related to child maltreatment, ranging between 12.3% in 2006 and 29.9% in 2009.  More deaths were due to neglect or negligence than physical abuse.  Nearly 85% of all maltreatment-related infant deaths occured during the first 6 months of life.
  • The most common cause of preventable infant death is unintentional suffocation in a sleep environment, which may also be categorized as SIDS or Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID).  Deaths due to unsafe sleep environments or SIDS/SUID were about 34% of all postneonatal deaths in Alaska during 2009-2012.

What is SIDS?

  • The technical definition of SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history.
  • SIDS deaths are a part of the larger number of sudden and unexpected infant deaths.
  • Many sudden unexpected infant deaths are caused by unintentional suffocation during sleep and can be prevented by putting babies on their backs to sleep in safe sleep environments and no tobacco exposure either before or after birth.