SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

What is SIDS?

What SIDS is Not

The following chart lists the expected appearance of a SIDS infant at time of death and the appearance of a child abuse infant at time of death.

SIDS Infant Child Abuse, Maltreatment
Seem well developed, but may be small for their age. The infant may be obviously wasted away (malnutrition).
Have signs of normal hydration and nutrition.  
Have no external signs of injury. Visible signs of injury, including broken bones, bruises, burns, cuts, head trauma, black eyes, scars and welts/wounds.
Have other siblings who seem normal and healthy. Other siblings may look abused or neglected.
Parents indicate infant was well and healthy when put to sleep. Parents' story does not sound right or cannot account for all the injuries on the infant.
Lividity, or the appearance of dark, pooled blood on the side the infant was lying. May have the appearance of bruising. The pattern of lividity helps determine the position of the body at the time of and following death.  
Blood-tinged or frothy fluid draining from nose/ mouth.  
Cold skin and rigor mortis, or stiffening, which takes place quickly in infants. Parents may fear the infant "froze."  
Vomit, which should not be misinterpreted as the infant dying of aspiration. Diaper wet and full of stool.  
Small marks, such as a diaper rash appearing more severe.