Research Scientist

Sudden Unexplained Death of a Child (SUDC)


As of 2017, SUDC, the sudden and unexpected death of a child from 1-4 years, causes approximately 1.5 deaths per 100,000 children. (SUDC Statistics)In comparison, the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is 40 times more common. (CJ Foundation for SIDS)

Facts from the SUDC Program.
Occurs in children over the age of 12 months and is a diagnosis of exclusion (assigned when all known causes of death have been ruled out).

Its incidence is approximately 1.5 deaths per 100,000 children.  In comparison, the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is 45 times more common.
We do not know of any way to reduce the risk of SUDC.
It is unpredictable and unpreventable at this time.  Research dollars are crucial in uncovering the mystery of SUDC.

What is SUDC?
SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood) is the sudden and unexpected death of a child over the age of twelve months, which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation is conducted. Similar to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), SUDC is a diagnosis of exclusion - given when all known and possible causes of death have been ruled out. [By definition, SIDS applies only to the death of babies younger than 12 months, while SUDC victims are past their first birthday whose deaths go unexplained even after an autopsy, a death scene investigation and medical history review.]

SUDC is not new, but it is rare with a reported incidence of 1.5 deaths per 100,000 children, compared to 54 deaths per 100,000 live births for SIDS (United States, 2005). Presently, SUDC cannot be predicted and/or prevented since its cause is unknown. Most SUDC deaths occur between the ages of 1 and 3, but researchers have looked at cases of children as old as 15.

Researchers are working to identify the cause(s) and risk(s) of SUDC. But until a day when no family experiences this tragic loss, the SUDC program will continue to raise funds for research, aid in the creation of state and national legislation to further SUDC investigations, and provide programs and services for SUDC families across the country.


Medical Resources for SUDC Families (Source: SUDC Program):  Families who are coping with a sudden unexplained death of a family member often have anxiety about their family’s health and the risk of re-occurrence.

Will this happen again?

If no one can tell me why my child died,
how can anyone be sure it won’t happen again?
How can I be proactive to protect my family...
 and have some peace of mind?


The SUDC Program and the SUDC research team created Family Medical Testing Recommendations. Families can take to this to their doctor to help guide discussions on what is appropriate for their given family.


Additionally, there are clinics available that will evaluate families with a history of sudden unexplained death. 

The Long QT Syndrome Clinic of the Mayo Clinics 

The Children's Hospital at Montefiore (Bronx, NY) Center for CardioGenetics

Last updated 6-20-2019



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