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CDC Releases Tool to Aid Infant Death Scene Investigation


March 1, 2006, For the first time, law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners will have the information they need to more accurately determine the cause of a child’s death with the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation (SUIDI) Reporting Form, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This establishes national standards for data collection at infant death scene investigations.

Each year in the United States, more than 4,500 infants die suddenly, with no obvious cause. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of sudden infant death, and the third leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. The cause of SIDS is unknown.
“ The diagnosis of SIDS should be reserved for those cases in which the cause of death remains unexplained after thorough examination of the death scene, a complete autopsy, and a review of the infant’s medical history,” said Dr. Kay Tomashek of the CDC’s SUIDI Initiative Team.

“The death of any infant is a profound tragedy, and the family deserves to know exactly why their baby died,” said Dr. Tomashek. "A complete autopsy, a thorough death scene investigation, and a review of the clinical records are essential to establishing a valid cause of death.
Accurate and consistent diagnosis and reporting of the cause of death among infants is needed to monitor trends in sudden unexplained infant deaths"

The newly designed form will be used by states, counties and local jurisdictions on a voluntary basis to gather information about the circumstances surrounding all sudden, unexplained infant deaths. To standardize investigations of, and reports on, the causes of sudden infant deaths, the Division of Reproductive Health at the CDC initiated a national Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Initiative in 2004. CDC has been collaborating with organizations representing those who investigate infant death scenes, use data gathered at scenes, and support parents who have had an infant die.

The CDC will train death investigators in how to consistently collect data at the death scene and accurately report their findings on the death certificate. CDC will conduct five regional trainings throughout the United States. The first regional training will be held in St.

Louis, Missouri on June 12-15, 2006 and the second academy will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 18-21, 2006. Until now, there were no national training materials on how to conduct an infant death scene investigation.

More information on SIDS is at


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