October is national awareness month for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).The death of an infant is devastating for families and communities, and when an infant passes away suddenly and unexpectedly, the confusion and lack of answers can be harrowing for everyone involved. The Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center at Children’s Minnesota aims to help families in these distressing situations by providing information, counseling and support.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant, usually less than one year of age, which remains unexplained after a complete case investigation. Whenever a sudden, unexpected death of a child less than two years of age occurs in the state, Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center is notified. Staff reaches out to the family and works with local public health agencies to ensure that a nurse visits with the family at home and connects them with needed support services. From there, families receive supportive follow-up visits throughout the year. The center also contacts the family’s primary care doctor to offer consultation on care during this difficult time.
In addition to reaching out to families who have lost a child, the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center develops and distributes informational materials about how to reduce the risk of SIDS by creating a safe sleep environment for baby. Staff members also participate in infant mortality reduction work through the Minnesota Department of Health, which identifies the medical, social and environmental factors associated with infant deaths.