Sudden infant death syndrome history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Vamsikrishna Gunnam M.B.B.S[2]


The majority of patients with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are asymptomatic. SIDS condition happens sudden and fast so the infants does not show much of the symptoms. Sudden infant death syndrome is mostly referred to the all unexpected infant deaths.

History and Symptoms


Patients with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) may have a positive history of:[1][2][3][4][5]

The following questions should be asked to the parents regarding the child by the physician which includes the following:

  • Any trauma to the infant ?
  • Any foreign body ingestion by the infant ?
  • Any history of apnea? If yes then ask about the time length of apnea in seconds ?
  • Incidents that might have happened before the BRUE (Brief Resolved Unexplained Events)
  • Any signs of paroxysmal cough ?
  • Any signs or symptoms of the upper respiratory tract infection ?
  • Any symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) after the feeding the child ?
  • Time and amount of the last meal of the infant ?
  • What was the child’s position when the parents put the child to sleep?
  • Any change in the colour of the infant ? If yes ask the parent which colour ? if the parent says blue colour then ask how blue?
  • Ask parents if there is any event ? if yes ask them duration of the event ?
  • Ask parents about the body tone of the infant ? like is the baby stiff, or shaking ?
  • Ask the parents if they have done any CPR after the incident ? if yes ask them how was it done?

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) include:

  • Brief Resolved Unexplained Events (BRUEs: formerly Apparent Life-Threatening Events) which includes the following:

Less Common Symptoms

Less common symptoms of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) prior to death include:


  1. TASK FORCE ON SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (2016). "SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment". Pediatrics. 138 (5). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2938. PMID 27940804.
  2. Sherman PM, Hassall E, Fagundes-Neto U, Gold BD, Kato S, Koletzko S; et al. (2009). "A global, evidence-based consensus on the definition of gastroesophageal reflux disease in the pediatric population". Am J Gastroenterol. 104 (5): 1278–95, quiz 1296. doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.129. PMID 19352345.
  3. Orenstein SR (2001). "An overview of reflux-associated disorders in infants: apnea, laryngospasm, and aspiration". Am J Med. 111 Suppl 8A: 60S–63S. doi:10.1016/s0002-9343(01)00823-3. PMID 11749927.
  4. Mittal MK, Donda K, Baren JM (2013). "Role of pneumography and esophageal pH monitoring in the evaluation of infants with apparent life-threatening event: a prospective observational study". Clin Pediatr (Phila). 52 (4): 338–43. doi:10.1177/0009922813475704. PMID 23393308.
  5. Guilleminault C, Pelayo R, Leger D, Philip P (2000). "Apparent life-threatening events, facial dysmorphia and sleep-disordered breathing". Eur J Pediatr. 159 (6): 444–9. doi:10.1007/s004310051304. PMID 10867851.