SUDI Standards in Child Death


All infant and child deaths need to be investigated  in a systematic and standardized method.  The SUDI forms provide by the CDC is the national standard approach to investigating these deaths. Frequently, a cause of death is determined after a thorough investigation and autopsy by a medical examiner and coroner. The deaths that remain unexplained are defined as SIDS. Therefore, SIDS is a type of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

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Infant Death Scene Investigation

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has developed the Sudden and Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) Investigation Reporting Form. The Reporting Form, a guide for its use and a training curriculum for infant death scene investigation are available online. The form will guide and standardize the work and practices of EMS professionals, law enforcement, death scene investigators, medical examiners and coroners, death certifiers and child death review (CDR) team members.  Information obtained by using the form in infant death investigations can also be used to guide the development of strategies for the prevention of infant deaths.

All infant and child deaths need to be investigated  in a systematic and standardized method.  The SUDI forms provide by the CDC is the national standard approach to investigating these deaths.

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history.

In the United States, SIDS is the major cause of death in infants from 1 month to 1 year. Most deaths occur between 2-4 months of age. Typically, a seemingly healthy infant dies suddenly and unexpectedly, usually during a period of sleep. A diagnosis is made after all the possible causes of death have been excluded. SIDS can occur in families of any race, socio-economic status, religion or nationality.

Causes of SIDS remain unexplained. However, SIDS is not caused by suffocation, child abuse, immunizations, vomiting, choking or by minor illnesses such as a cold or infection. SIDS is not contagious.

Placed – Found Photos

As talked about in this episode all child death investigations need to include scene reenactment photos of the position and place the child was last seen alive and the position and place they were found unresponsive.  Using placed/found  signs will help everyone viewing the photos to understand the reenactment.


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Today’s Guest

Kathleen HargraveKathleen Hargrave

Chief Forensic Investigator

St Louis Medical Examniers Office



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About the Author
Darren is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and criminal investigations. He currently serves as an investigator for the Crawford County Missouri coroner’s office. He holds credentials as an instructor for the Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy, has served as president of the Missouri Medical Examiners and Coroners Association, and is certified and credentialed in numerous fields of investigation. He holds the position of lead instructor and facilitator for the Coroner Talk™ community as he speaks and writes in the area of death investigation and scene management.

3 comments on SUDI Standards in Child Death

  1. Larry says:

    The CDC forms were not available. Can you send them along?

  2. jessica Mitchell says:

    Does anyone know of any seminars for SUDI’s?

    1. Darren Dake says:

      We teach an 8 hours program – nationally accredited through ABMDI and ACFEI. To find location, or to bring a training to your area go to and click on the class schedule tab on the right…

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