Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is among the most common causes of infant mortality in Alaska. During 2010-2016, an underlying cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed, or unknown cause was listed on the death certificate for 30% of infant deaths in Alaska; 56% of post-neonatal deaths were SUID in Alaska. Given these figures, increased efforts to ensure timely and complete data collection and reporting are necessary in order to evaluate and assess current and emerging prevention and intervention efforts.
Since the early 1990s, Alaska has conducted statewide infant and child death reviews through the Alaska Maternal Child Death Review (MCDR) program, located in the Alaska Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health. The MCDR program currently identifies and reviews all maternal, infant, and child deaths in Alaska with a purpose of developing and disseminating statewide public health recommendations that would directly impact the reduction of mortality in these populations. The purpose of this application is to improve the quality, utility, and impact of Alaska’s SUID data.
These improvements include: 1) increasing the timeliness of identification and review of SUID deaths; 2) compiling information to complete all SUID-related data elements included in the NCRPCD standardized case report tool; 3) creating actionable recommendations aimed at improving death investigations as well as developing SUID reduction and prevention strategies; 4) reporting and disseminating findings; and 5) expanding the scope of the current national SIDS/SUID case registry by including data from a state with a large indigenous population with diverse sleep practices.
By the end of the project period, the state of Alaska will have improved its practices related to collection of comprehensive and timely information about unexpected infant deaths. Furthermore, in conjunction with statewide safe sleep initiative, MCDR will continue to adopt and implement data-driven best practices and policies to reduce or prevent SUID. By improving practices and adopting data-informed strategies, the incidence of SUID in Alaska will be reduced in the long term. Participation in the SUID Case Registry system will not only improve Alaska’s ability to develop comprehensive prevention efforts, but also contribute a diverse set of data from a state with a large indigenous population.