Scene Investigation

By definition, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) should be used as a cause of death only after:

  • a thorough examination of the death scene;
  • a review of the clinical history;
  • and performance of an autopsy fail to find an explanation for the death.

Yet, we know that some Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) cases are not investigated and, when they are, investigation data are not collected and reported consistently. The Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form (SUIDIRF) was designed to assist investigative agencies to better understand the circumstances and factors contributing to unexplained infant deaths. The 2006 Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form replaces the 1996 Reporting Form. The SUIDIRF was developed to establish a standard death scene investigation protocol for the investigation of all sudden, unexplained infant deaths.

Some deaths that would have been classified as SIDS before 1999 are now being classified as accidental suffocation or unknown cause, suggesting that reporting practices have changed. Inconsistent practices in investigation and cause-of-death determination hamper the ability to monitor national trends, ascertain risk factors, and design and evaluate programs to prevent these deaths. To standardize investigations of, and reports on, the causes of sudden infant deaths, CDC collaborated with a number of organizations to

  1. revise the 1996 Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form, and
  2. develop a training curriculum and materials for investigators of infant deaths.

CDC disseminated the reporting form and conducted train-the-trainer classes throughout the United States.

The SUIDI Report Form and related materials can be found at the SUIDI Reporting Form link on this site.

Note: This text is provided courtesy of the CDC at