The diagnosis of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is for the purpose of exclusion and may be applied to infants whose death is sudden, unexpected, and remains unexplained after the performance of a post mortem investigation.
A postmortem investigation includes:
► An autopsy
► Investigation of the scene and circumstances of the death, and
► Exploration of the medical history of the infant and family
Generally, but not always, the infant is found dead after having been put to sleep and exhibits no signs of having suffered.
History and Examination to support the Diagnosis of SIDS would include:
► A typical history comprises of a recently fed infant put to the bed for sleep. When checked later, the infant is observed without pulse or respiration.
► Infants who become victims of SIDS are typically full- term babies, without a history of significant pregnancy-related complications.
► Approximately 12-20% of infants with SIDS are born prematurely or with low birth weight.
► Before death, infants with SIDS feed well and gain weight normally.
► Generally, no external sign of health-related concerns exist.
► Infants whose deaths are attributed to SIDS are typically found pulseless and with no respiratory movements associated with a period of sleep.
At autopsy, the infant usually exhibits signs of normal hydration and nutrition with no signs of obvious or hidden evidence of trauma. Other autopsy findings usually include:
► Infants with SIDS often display a frothy blood-tinged discharge from the nose or mouth at the time of discovery.
► Microscopic examination may reveal minor inflammatory changes within the tree of the air-passages or signs of passive congestion of the organs.