Report shows rise in sudden infant deaths of Black babies

More than 3,000 suffered from sudden unexpected infant death in 2020, but there was a disparity between White and Black babies.
A picture of a baby's feet
Posted at 3:43 PM, Mar 13, 2023

More than 3,000 infants suffered from sudden unexpected infant death, also known as SUID, in 2020, according to a study published in the academic journal Pediatrics. The report notes that the SUID rate per 100,000 live births increased from 89.5 in 2019 to 92.1 in 2020.

SUID is an umbrella term used for unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old. Sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS, falls under the SUID classification. 

As researchers looked deeper into the numbers, they noticed a stark disparity. The SUID rate for Black infants was higher than any time since 2017 and nearly three times the rate for non-Hispanic White infants. 

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Why the rate increased for that group is unknown. However, the authors noted that interventions are needed to address "persistent racial and ethnic disparities in SUID."

A commentary piece published in Pediatrics contends that the alarming rate of SUID among Black babies is multifactorial, "reflecting poverty levels, lack of access to prenatal and well-child care, and education regarding safe sleep and other practices, including the feeding of human milk, which can reduce the risk of SUID, and social norms related to these practices that vary between communities."

Health officials contend there is no guaranteed way to prevent SIDS. However, they say safe sleep environments can reduce an infant's risk of SIDS. 

A safe sleep environment includes a firm, flat sleeping surface that is free of soft objects and loose bedding. Parents are also advised to lay their baby on their back and to not sleep in the same bed as them. 

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