How to Distinguish Between SIDS and Child Abuse/Neglect
Dr. Dale Ackley
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- Deaths: 6,500-7,500 per year
- Highest incidences between 2 to 4 months of age during winter months
- Exhibits no external signs of injury.
- Exhibits “natural” appearance of dead baby: lividity – settling of blood; frothy drainage from nose/mouth small marks, e.g., diaper rash looks more severe cooling/rigor mortis takes place quickly in infants (about 3 hours).
- Appears to be well-developed baby.
- Other siblings appear to be normal and healthy.
- PLUS: Parents say that infant was well when put to sleep (last time seen alive).
Child Abuse and Neglect
- Deaths: 1,000-4,000 per year
- No seasonal differenc
- Distinguishable and visible signs of injury.
- Broken bone(s)
- Bruises Burns
- Head trauma, e.g., black eye
- May be obviously wasted away (malnutrition)
- Other siblings may show patterns of commonly seen in child abuse and neglect.
- PLUS: Parent’s story does not “sound right” healthy or cannot account for all injuries on infant.