Investigation after a suspected SIDS incident

Every case of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is investigated by a team of medical professionals and police officers. SIDS is confirmed only if the death remains unexplained after review of the baby's and parents' medical histories, examination of the death scene, and autopsy.

During the investigation, all possible causes of death are ruled out, such as:

  • Trauma from an accident or abuse.
  • Diseases, such as heart problems.
  • Alcohol, drug, or toxic exposure.
  • Illness, such as meningitis or pneumonia.
  • Miscellaneous, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, burns, or dehydration.

The loss of a baby is devastating. Medical and police personnel are trained to be mindful of the difficult emotions family members experience. For example, often parents want or need to spend some time alone with their baby. Most investigators will understand and grant permission for this request.

Parents and all caregivers will be asked questions related to child abuse. These questions may be especially difficult for parents when their baby has died of SIDS. Understand that these and other questions are standard—they do not imply that you are to blame for the death of your child. When the investigation confirms that a baby's death is a case of SIDS, it means that no one is responsible for the tragedy.

Last Updated: September 15, 2008

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