The World Health Organization recognizes SIDS as a cause of death so it can be put on death certificates. It’s now known that children die up until their teens for no apparent reason, though most occur between 1 to 4 years of age.

The first study of all deaths to babies in Northeast Florida before the age of 1 revealed that some of the deaths were mysteries.


The term is Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths. While rare, the impact on the mother and family can be devastating.


Dona Zamalloa, a reader of the Florida Times-Union, a sister paper to The News Herald experienced one of these tragic, mysterious deaths.


She wrote an account of her pregnancy for the Times-Union Editorial Page.


“I thought it was God’s gift to me. But on Sept. 5, 1969 after working the 11-7 shift at the hospital, my oldest daughter came into my room, shaking me awake, telling me she couldn’t wake Cindy. I ran into the room and found her still, cold and blotchy.


“I couldn’t understand what had happened. She was fine when I checked on her when I got home from work. In fact she had been at one end of the crib and when I found her she was at the other end of the crib, so she had died while I was in the next room. Not a sound.”


The death certificate read “no anatomical cause.”


The World Health Organization recognizes SIDS as a cause of death so it can be put on death certificates. It’s now known that children die up until their teens for no apparent reason, though most occur between 1 to 4 years of age.


An organization called the SUDC Foundation (Sudden Unexplained Death in Children) states that every year at least 400 children are lost to undetermined causes in the U.S. It is most common in young children and is the fifth-leading category of death among children ages 1 to 4 years.


The SUDC Foundation recommends that all families follow guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics — attend regular child wellness visits, maintain current vaccinations and seek medical care when needed.


More public awareness is needed.


Infant mortality once was on the front-burner of leaders in community. After some progress, the number of deaths leveled off in recent years.


Infant mortality is considered a sentinel indicator of a community’s quality of life because often there are factors that go far beyond medical care. The health of the mother can be influenced by stress in her life, poverty, lack of transportation, a low-paying job with no health care or substance abuse.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these safe-sleeping practices for infants:


• Place babies on their backs. Remove all objects from the crib.


• Use a firm sleep surface and avoid soft materials like pillows, quilts or comforters.


• Share a room with an infant but not the same bed.


• When a mother smokes during a pregnancy or during infancy that increases the risk of the infant’s death. The same goes for alcohol or illegal drug use.


• Couches and armchairs “are extremely dangerous places for infants.”


• Breastfeeding helps protect against infant death.


Yet sometimes all the preparation in the world can’t prevent a crib death.


This guest editorial was originally published in the Florida Times-Union, a sister newspaper within Gannett.