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The SIDS Center of New Jersey is a statewide program funded in part through a health services grant from the New Jersey Department of Health.  Now in its 29th year, it is based at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical and Hackensack University Medical Center.  The program’s missions are: bereavement support for New Jersey’s families whose infants died suddenly and unexpectedly, research into the etiologies of these deaths, and statewide risk reduction education.  The program’s research is cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics as contributing to their Safe Infant Sleep Guidelines (Pediatrics 2016).  The SIDS Center’s extensive educational outreach has had an impact on lowering the rate of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) in New Jersey. SUID is comprised of SIDS, Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation, and Unknown Causes.


The CDC maintains national data on infant mortality for each state.  As of February, 2017, the most recent year in its database is 2013 as it takes a few years for data to be processed.  Because state data consist of numbers deemed statistically “small,” it is summarized in three year groups. Based on the most recently available data for national comparisons (2011-2013), New Jersey had the lowest rate of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) in the nation.  Only one other state equaled that. 





The national rate of SUID in this period was 0.87 per 1000 live births, in contrast to the New Jersey rate of 0.48.  SUID is comprised of SIDS, Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation and Ill-defined and Unknown Causes. All three sleep-related infant deaths are now looked at in combination uder the term SUID in public health analyses because there is a variance in how each component diagnosis is applied, leading to diagnosis drift among these component terms.  Of note, all three also share risk factors.  SUID assures that no matter the final diagnosis in this cluster, the death is included for analysis.  Looking specifically at SIDS and specifically in the most recent year available for national comparisons, New Jersey's SIDS rate in 2013 of 0.25 per 1000 live births was also low compared to the national rate of 0.4.


New Jersey’s low rates are associated with the extensive safe sleep education provided through our outreach to birthing hospitals through our program Nurses LEAD the Way and through continuing education of health care, social service, child care, and community outreach providers, for example. The education is consistent with the evidence-based safe infant sleep guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Increased compliance with safe infant sleep is associated with declines in SUID rates.  The SIDS Center partners with the maternal and child health consortia, hospitals, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other systems with shared goals to achieve penetration of the safe sleep information.


New partners are always encouraged to participate.  The SIDS Center is able to provide in-service education on safe sleep to individuals who interface with the public and is also able to provide material for distribution.