About 3,500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States. These deaths, labeled Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID), are investigated thoroughly to determine their causes. About half of SUIDs are determined to be the result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
SIDS is the sudden death of an infant less than 12 months old which can't be explained following autopsy, examination of the scene, and review of medical history. SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants aged 1 to 12 months.
Other causes of SUID include Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed (ASSB) due to accidental suffocation or strangulation by soft bedding, by "overlay" (when another person rolls on top of or against the infant), by wedging or entrapment (when an infant is trapped two objects, or by strangulation (such as when an infant's head and neck get caught between crib railings).
The most important takeway is that it is critical that caregivers practice safe sleeping practices with their infants to prevent unnecessary deaths by SUID or SIDS. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in its Safe to Sleep campaign (formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign), which offers outreach and education activities aimed at reducing infant death from SIDS and other sleep-related causes. Learn more here