Sudden Death in the Young and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death - Minnesota Department of Health

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Death in the Young

The sudden death of a child is tragic and has far-reaching effects on families and communities, particularly when the immediate cause of death is not clear. Sudden Death in the Young (SDY) can include young people, from babies and children to young adults up to age 20.

Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is specific to the sudden and unexpected death of an infant who is less than one year old. These deaths can be related to:

  • Accidental death – like suffocation or strangulation,
  • Sudden natural deaths – like those caused from a heart, vascular or metabolic disorder, or neurological conditions,
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – when following investigation, no obvious cause of death can be identified.

SUID ranks high in infant mortality

SUID is Minnesota’s third leading cause of infant mortality and the leading cause of American Indian infant mortality across the United States. Get additional SUID data.

In 2015, there were about 3,700 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States, 1,600 were due to SIDS, 1,200 due to unknown causes, and 900 due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. In 2014 and 2015 respectively, SUID was responsible for 53 and 54 deaths in Minnesota. Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Data and Statistics

Causes of SDY and SUID

Doctors, scientists and families really do not have a good understanding of what causes these deaths, which makes prevention more difficult. That is why the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborated to create the Sudden Death in the Young (SDY) Case Registry. The registry will gather and store information about sudden child deaths to help:

  • Count the number and types of sudden deaths in babies, children and young adults up to age 20
  • Try to understand the causes for these deaths
  • See if some children are more at risk than others
  • Find ways to prevent these deaths

Prevention Resources

Because the exact causes of these deaths remains unknown and there is no way of predicting which young people are at risk, it is important to eliminate any potential risk by assuring that parents and families are well informed and aware of all the resources targeting well-being within our communities.

MDH Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative

Through review of vital records and other data, the Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative identifies the factors associated with infant deaths and aims to reduce preventable mortality.

MDH Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths and Safe Sleep

The Safe to Sleep® public education campaign offers a number of materials to help share safe infant sleep material. These are available in English and Spanish. MDH Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (Includes SIDS and Sleep-Related Infant Deaths) and Safe Sleep

Resources for families who have experienced a loss

If you have experienced a sudden death, you are not alone. While you may not know of others in your situation, there are many other parents who have been where you are now, understand your sorrow and are available to talk.

Many people find accepting the support provided by those familiar with the grieving process helps them during this most difficult time. The Department of Health has put together a list of different bereavement support groups to help with this difficult time.

  • The Compassionate Friends | 877-969-0010
    The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.
  • MISSFoundation | 888-455-6477
    This volunteer based organization provides C.A.R.E. [counseling, advocacy, research, and education] services to families experiencing the death of a child.
  • The Tears Foundation
    The foundation seeks to compassionately assist bereaved parents with the financial expenses they face in making final arrangements for their precious baby who has died.

Support groups

  • Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Foundation
    The Sudden Unexplained Death In Childhood (SUDC) Foundation is tasked with providing a centralized resource for information, research, support and advocacy. It serves families and professionals affected by the tragedy of SUDC, and promotes awareness of SUDC in communities.
  • CJ Foundation for SIDS
    First Candle is committed to the elimination of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and preventable Stillbirths through education and research while providing support for grieving families who have suffered a loss.
  • Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support
    Serves those whose lives are touched by the tragic death of a baby through pregnancy loss, stillbirth or in the first few months of life.
  • The Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center
    Children’s Minnesota’s statewide program that provides information, counseling, and support to anyone experiencing a sudden and unexpected infant death from any cause.


  • Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS) Foundation
    The foundation works to save the lives and support the families of children and adults who are genetically predisposed to sudden death due to heart rhythm abnormalities.
  • Parent Heart Watch
    A community of parents who have lost our children to this silent killer and have found comfort among families who have had a similar experience.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association
    Founded in 1996 we are committed to providing support, education, advocacy and advancing research, understanding and care to those with HCM. This website will provide information, support options and member services.


  • Epilepsy Foundation Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) Institute
    People who continue to have seizures are at greater risk of a number of complications, which is why preventing seizures and other problems is so important.
  • The Danny Did Foundation
    The foundation works toward its mission to prevent deaths caused by seizures with these main goals in mind: advancing public awareness of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), enhancing the SUDEP communication model between medical professionals and families afflicted by seizures, and the mainstreaming of seizure detection and prediction devices that may assist in preventing seizure-related deaths.
  • Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE)
    CURE’s mission is to cure epilepsy, transforming and saving millions of lives. We identify and fund cutting-edge research, challenging scientists worldwide to collaborate and innovate in pursuit of this goal.
Updated Friday, 13-May-2022 09:46:18 CDT