Serious gaps in the investigation of sudden unexpected deaths in infancy in Australia

Paul N Goldwater
Med J Aust 2023; 218 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51884
Published online: 3 April 2023

SUDI investigations should be led by coroners, supported by experienced paediatric pathologists

Jeffery and colleagues examined how sudden unexpected deaths in infancy (SUDI) are investigated in Australia in a questionnaire‐based study,1 reported in this issue of the MJA. They unsurprisingly exposed gaps in the process and unsuitable approaches to investigating these deaths. As Jeffery and colleagues note, the definition of SUDI encompasses all cases in which an infant dies (or suffers a collapse that leads to death) before the age of twelve months, the death could not have been anticipated 24 hours earlier, and no medical cause is apparent. The SUDI definition includes all such deaths, whether they are subsequently explained or not, and thus encompasses sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a diagnosis that requires a complete investigation, including history, death scene investigation, and full autopsy. In the absence of generally recognised causes, the investigation of SUDI is a special situation: each case is a subject of research or a problem to be solved.

  • Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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