Sudden unexpected deaths after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit

Semin Neonatol. 2003 Apr;8(2):159-67. doi: 10.1016/S1084-2756(02)00222-1.


The published evidence on the risk of sudden unexpected death in infants after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is reviewed, together with the relevance of the various identified potentially modifiable post-natal risk factors, particularly sleeping position. Infants of low birthweight, short gestation, and those with adverse perinatal histories are at substantially increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but the potential benefits from following the measures designed to reduce the risk of SIDS are proportionally greater than for term infants. The use of home apnoea monitors has not been shown to be of value in preventing SIDS, but the importance of maintaining adequate oxygenation in infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia is emphasised. Evidence based recommendations for care of infants after discharge from the NICU with a view to reducing the risk of SIDS are presented, and do not differ significantly from those for low-risk infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / standards*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge / standards*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sudden Infant Death* / prevention & control
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom
  • United States