Facts About SUDC

  • SUDC is the sudden and unexpected death of a child, between 1 and 18 years of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation is conducted. This must include; examination of the death scene, performance of a complete post-mortem, and a review of the child and family’s medical history. (Medically defined by Krous et al in 2005)
  • SUDC is a category of death which eludes our scientific understanding today.
  • We do not currently know of any way to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood.
  • At this time, no-one can predict or prevent these deaths; neither parents nor medical professionals.

Statistics in the UK

SUDC is not new, but is rare and its incidence is approximately 1 death per 100,000 children. Based on 2018 statistics provided by ONS for England and Wales 40 children were affected by SUDC; more young childhood deaths than those due to traffic accidents, fires or drowning.

Based on the ONS statistics for 2018 codes R96-R99 in England and Wales, sudden unexplained death affected:

  • 22  one-four year olds
  • 4    five-nine year olds
  • 1    ten-fourteen year olds
  • 13  fifteen-nineteen year olds

Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood can affect children of any age from 1-18. However, it appears to be most prevalent in toddlers (~60%) and children in their late teens (~30%). This distribution of deaths is a trend that has remained unchanged for years and is consistent with international data.

Sudden Unexplained Death In Childhood (SUDC) is the 5th leading category of death in England and Wales for children aged 1-4 years. In 2018 there were 374 deaths of children in this age group and 5.9% percent of these were sudden and unexplained. 

It is not restricted to the UK and more information from the WHO and CDC database is available from the SUDC Foundation website.