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Infant Mortality Awareness


  • Most deaths during the neonatal period are related to events or conditions that occur during pregnancy and delivery, while postneonatal deaths are more often associated with conditions or events that occur after delivery.
  • About 30% of all infant deaths in Alaska during 1992-2004 were due to SIDS or SUID, occurring while the infants were sleeping.
  • During 1992-2004, an average of 10 infant deaths (13%) per year were related to maltreatment, either intentional neglect or physical abuse, or unintentional gross negligence.
  • Maternal behaviors or factors that increase the risk of infant mortality include:
    • Having less than 12 years of education
    • Being unmarried or not having a partner
    • Smoking or chewing tobacco during pregnancy or after delivery
    • Drinking alcohol or using other substances during pregnancy
  • Although Alaska Native infants have a mortality rate twice as high as that of non-Native infants, a recent study determined that most of this increased risk was due to higher proportions of Alaska Native mothers with the risk factors described in the previous bullet.

What is SIDS?

  • The technical definition of SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history.
  • SIDS deaths are a part of the larger number of sudden and unexpected infant deaths.
  • Many sudden unexpected infant deaths are caused by unintentional suffocation during sleep and can be prevented by putting babies on their backs to sleep in safe sleep environments and no tobacco exposure either before or after birth.