Sudden unexpected death in infants (SUDI)


A sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) is deemed to have occurred where there is no known pre-existing condition which would make the death predictable.  Only a small number of children die during infancy in Scotland and while the majority of such deaths are as a result of natural causes, physical defects or accidents, a small proportion are avoidable, having been caused by the commission or omission of an act i.e. through neglect, violence, malicious administration of substances or by the careless use of drugs.


Since the cause of death is not known, a death certificate cannot be issued and the death is not able to be registered.  It is therefore routine practice that all SUDIs are reported to the Procurator Fiscal on whose behalf the police will act.  This practice is well established and the police will automatically be informed of the death by the Scottish Ambulance Service or Emergency Department.  Investigations which include a post-mortem examination may take several months and begins with the gathering of information from health workers and police.  On the rare occasion when death appears to be the result of a criminal act, the police will work sensitively to collect detailed information from the outset.



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