This study aimed to review available published reports concerning sudden unexpected postnatal collapse (SUPC) of apparently healthy infants within the first days of postnatal life, establish a structured presentation and delineate recommendations for preventive measures. All published reports of SUPC cases were retrospectively analyzed, and three not previously published SUPC cases at Karolinska University Hospital were detailed to exemplify the varying presentations and outcomes of SUPC. We found 398 published cases of SUPC occurring during first postnatal week. Estimated incidence of the SUPC of a presumably healthy infant after birth differs widely, ranging from 2.6 cases to 133 cases/100,000. However, definition, inclusion, and exclusion criteria vary substantially between reports. Our summary indicates that reported SUPC occurs more frequently than expected from recent surveys. About half of the infants die, and of the remaining survivors, half have neurological sequela. Of the 233 cases of sudden unexpected death described, no etiology was found in 153 cases. When a defined time for the SUPC event is described, approximately one third of reported events occur during the first 2 h, between 2 and 24 h and between 1 and 7 days after birth, respectively. Adequate education of caregivers and appropriate surveillance during the first days of newborns should enable us to save hundreds of lives.
Keywords: Adenosine; Birth asphyxia; Cardiorespiratory control; Hypoxia; Prone; Prostaglandin; Sudden unexpected postnatal collapse.