UNM Pathology/OMI Research study: Safe Sleeping Conditions and SIDS

October 26, 2011 - Department of Pathology

Jessica Black, a medical student at UNM SOM, presented a retrospective SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) study at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Boston, October 2011.  SIDS remains a leading cause of death for infants under one year of age and causes approximately 4600 deaths in the US annually. 

Mentored by Clarissa Krinsky, MD and Sarah Lathrop DVM PhD, UNM Pathologist and Epidemiologist, and Robert Sapien MD, UNM Pediatrician, Ms. Black used OMI data to review 91 deaths of children younger than one year of age in New Mexico between 2006 and 2010; 59 cases were determined to be SUID (Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome)/SIDS and 28 deaths were undetermined. Of the cases, 52% were in a non-supine position, 71% were on an unsafe sleeping surface, and 50% were sharing a sleep surface (co-sleeping.)  Of the infants found in an unsafe sleeping environment, 57% had a crib in the home that was not used.  Thus, continued educational efforts are clearly necessary to reinforce the importance of safe sleeping conditions for infants.  This study highlights the impact of using pathology data to provide powerful evidence for public health measures.