Overview:

  • we started the database of unexplained deaths in infancy in 2004

  • released 18 months after the end of the reference period

  • includes sudden unascertained deaths of babies under 1 year of age

  • there is a 98% link rate with infant deaths and their birth records

Our database of unexplained deaths in infancy is used to create the annual bulletin Unexplained deaths in infancy in England and Wales. It includes sudden infant deaths and infant deaths where the causes remained unascertained after a full investigation. The linked data about parents (collected at the birth registration) can be used for analysis by certain risk factors. The risk factors include birth weight, mother’s age at birth of child, mother’s country of birth, marital status, parity (number of previous children) and the parent’s socio economic status based on occupation.

Sudden infant deaths are coded to the International Classification of Diseases tenth division (ICD-10) with R95, which is sudden infant death syndrome. Infant deaths where there was any mention of the terms “sudden infant death”, “ cot death”, “SIDS”, “crib death” or similar terms in the death certificate are included. Unascertained deaths use the IDC-10 code R99, which is used for other ill defined and unspecified causes of death.

These statistics are used to help identify some of the risk factors in infant deaths. The main users include the foundation of the Study of Infant Deaths, the Department of Health, Welsh Government and independent researchers.

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