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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Laws

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Updated November 2013

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4,000 infants die each year in the United States without any immediately obvious cause. The leading cause of these sudden unexplained infant deaths (SUID) is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which accounts for approximately half of all SUID cases. The CDC defines SIDS as "the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history.” Other known causes of SUID include accidental suffocation or strangulation, poisoning or overdose, and infections.

The number of children dying from SIDS has declined by more than 50 percent since 1990. One important factor credited by experts is the campaign to encourage parents to place infants on their backs to sleep. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs have been instrumental in the campaign. In 2012, the National Institutes of Health announced a new phase of the campaign that now includes efforts to reduce all sleep-related, sudden unexpected infant deaths. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new recommendations in 2011 to focus on a safe sleep environment that can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, which include avoiding soft bedding, bed-sharing, and exposure to tobacco.

Many states have laws related to SIDS/SUID. The laws vary significantly, both in scope and subject. Although the above definitions of SIDS and SUID are common, many states' definitions vary in terms of the age at which a child may be considered to have died from SIDS. Most commonly, states have laws that provide guidance for coroners or medical examiners and set protocol for autopsies of SIDS and/or SUID cases. Many states also require than an expert on SIDS participate in child fatality review committees.  In addition, several states have SIDS/SUID advisory councils, education programs or counseling programs. Still other states require data collection or research on SIDS/SUID.  At least 12 states require special training about SUID/SIDS for child care personnel, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or law enforcement officials—Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin

State

Summary of Statutes

Alabama

2011 Ala. Acts, Act 705 establishes the Alabama Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation (SUIDI) team as a subcommittee of the state Child Death Review team. The team is charged with the development, maintenance, and provision of SUIDI training curricula for the state. The team must establish an infant death scene investigation protocol; develop and maintain the training standards, policies, and procedures related to investigating and reporting SUID; and approve a standardized reporting form. An investigation must be performed utilizing the protocol and forms approved by the Alabama SUIDI Team in all incidents of infant death. In every case of SUID, the county coroner or medical examiner must be notified and cooperate and assist law enforcement with the death investigation. (2011 SB 427)

Ala. Code § 26-16-93 creates a State Child Death Review Team.  The law specifies that a pediatrician with expertise in SIDS appointed by the Alabama chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians must be a member of the team.

Alaska Alaska Stat. § 18-50-310 allows for the release of information to authorized representatives of organizations or foundations that counsel the next of kin of victims of SIDS.
American Samoa  
Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9-991 requires curriculum on the nature of SIDS to be part of the basic training for professional firefighters.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 11-597 specifies that a forensic pathologist shall perform an autopsy in the cases of sudden and unexplained infant death in accordance with protocols adopted by the director of the department of health services.  If the medical examiner or forensic pathologist determines that the infant died of SIDS, the department of health services shall be notified.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann §36-104 requires curriculum on the nature of SIDS to be part of basic training for law enforcement officers. The law also adopts protocols on the manner in which autopsies should be conducted in the event of sudden or unexplained infant death.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 36-3501 et seq. establish a child fatality review team in the department of health services. The director of the department of health services shall appoint members to serve staggered three year terms. Among other duties, the team will create and train cooperating agencies on the use of a child fatalities data collection system, conduct an annual statistical report on the incidence and causes of child fatalities, assist with the development of local child fatality review teams, and develop standards and protocols for the local teams. These laws also establish guidelines for the department of health services protocols in the investigation of natural infant death and requires law enforcement officers investigating unexplained infant deaths to complete an infant death investigation checklist. (2012 SB 1008)

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 41-1822 requires the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to prescribe minimum courses of training and minimum standards for training facilities for law enforcement officers. Officers must be trained on the nature of unexplained infant death and the handling of cases involving the unexplained death of an infant. First responders must be provided with medical information on unexplained infant death including awareness and sensitivity training in dealing with families and childcare providers. Officers must also be instructed on the importance of timely communication between the medical examiner's office, the department of health services and appropriate social service agencies in cases of unexplained infant death. (2012 SB 1008)

Arkansas

Ark. Stat. Ann. § 20-15-501 et seq. create the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act. The Act requires certain police and medical professionals with knowledge of the sudden death of a child between the ages of one week and one year to report the death to the county coroner within twenty-four hours of the discovery of the death.  The county coroner shall report the death to the Division of Health of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Act also specifies certain requirements regarding the autopsy of the infant. 

Ark. Stat. Ann. § 20-27-1701 et seq. create the Arkansas Child Death Review Panel. The law provides definitions and establishes the membership requirements, duties of the panel and reporting requirements for the panel.

California

Cal. Government Code § 27491, § 27491.4, § 27491.41 and Cal. Health & Safety Code § 102865 relate to the medical examiner and autopsies when the cause of death is suspected to be SIDS. Within 24 hours of the autopsy, the coroner shall notify the local health officer.

Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1254.6 requires a hospital to provide, free of charge, information and instructional materials regarding SIDS that explain the medical effects upon infants and young children and emphasizes measures that may reduce the risk.

Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1596.847 prohibits a child day care facility from using or having on the premises a crib that is unsafe for any infant. This law does not apply to any antique or collectible crib provided it is not used by, or accessible to, any child in the child day care facility. The law directs the department of social services to provide information and instructional materials regarding SIDS, explaining the medical effects upon infants and young children and emphasizing measures which may reduce the risk, free of charge to any child care facility licensed to provide care to children under the age of two years. The law provides additional guidance related to the development and provision of information on SIDS.

Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1797.170, § 1797.171, 1797.193 and § 1797.213 require individuals certified as emergency medical technicians, firefighters and authorized registered nurses to complete a course of training on the nature of SIDS.

Cal. Health & Safety Code § 123725 et seq. define SIDS and create the SIDS Advisory Council. The law directs the department to keep each county health officer advised of the most current knowledge relating to the nature and causes of SIDS. The law requires the department to contract with a person to provide regular and ongoing SIDS education and training programs for those who interact with parents and caregivers following a death from SIDS. The law also requires the department to contract with a person to produce, update and distribute literature on SIDS for specific target populations of persons who interact with parents and caregivers following a SIDS death. When SIDS is the presumed cause of death, the law requires the local health officer to immediately contact the individual(s) who had custody and control of the infant in order to provide information, support, referral and follow-up services relating to SIDS. If the infant was in child care, the local health officer must immediately contact the child care provider.

Cal. Penal Code § 13519.3 requires the commission on peace officers' standards and training to establish a course on the nature of SIDS and the handling of cases involving the sudden deaths of infants.

Cal. Welfare & Institutions Code § 18285 creates the Child Health and Safety Fund in the state treasury with funds from the license plate program. Money is available, upon appropriation, for programs that address child health and safety concerns, including SIDS.

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-20.5-401 et seq. create the Child Fatality Prevention Act, establishes the Colorado child fatality prevention review team to review deaths attributed to SIDS.  The law requires the team to include one member that is a sudden infant death specialist within the state. These laws were amended by 2013 Senate Bill 255 to establish local or regional child fatality prevention review teams to review specific cases of child fatalities in the team’s service areas that involve SUID, unintentional injury, motor vehicle incidents, child abuse or neglect, suicide, or undetermined causes to provide the state with case findings and develop a community approach to child fatality issues.The local or regional team’s findings must  be reviewed by the state review team and compiled into a report to prevent future child fatalities. (2005 HB 1280; 2013 SB 255)

Connecticut

 
Delaware  
District of Columbia  
Florida

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 383.311 requires birth centers to provide all clients with childbirth and childbearing education, including safe sleep practices and possible causes of SIDS. (2013 SB 56)

Fla. Stat. § 383.3362 provides legislative findings and definitions related to SUID. The law requires that basic training programs needed for certification as an emergency medical technician, a paramedic, a firefighter or a law enforcement officer include curriculum containing instruction on SUID. The law also relates to the medical examiner and autopsies. The law requires the Department of Health to collaborate with other agencies in the development and presentation of the SUID training programs; maintain a database of statistics on reported SUID deaths and analyze the data; serve as liaison and closely coordinate activities with the Florida SIDS Alliance; maintain a library reference list and materials about SUID for public dissemination; provide professional support to field staff; and coordinate the activities of and promote a link between the fetal and infant mortality review committees of the local healthy start coalitions, the Florida SIDS alliance and other related support groups. (2013 SB 56)

Fla. Stat. Ann § 395.1053 requires all hospitals that provide birthing services to incorporate education on safe sleeping practices and possible causes of SUID as part of the hospital’s postpartum instructions on the care of newborns. (2013 SB 56)

Fla. Stat. § 402.305 requires child care personnel to be trained to prevent SIDS.

 

Georgia

Ga. Code § 19-15-1 and § 19-15-3 relate to the child fatality review committee. Deaths eligible for review include child deaths as a result of SIDS.

Guam  
Hawaii

2013 Senate Bill 400 provides a definition of SUID and requires all child care facilities that are registered or licensed to provide care for children less than one year of age to implement and maintain a written safe sleep policy to prevent SUID.  

Idaho  

Illinois

Ill. Rev Stat. ch. 55, § 5/3-3016 requires an autopsy to be performed by a licensed physician when an infant under two years of age has died suddenly and unexpectedly.  Requires that the parents of the child receive a preliminary report of the autopsy within five days of the infant's death.  Also requires all suspected SIDS cases to be reported to the Statewide SIDS Program within 72 hours.

 Illinois House Resolution 328 (2008) commends the Illinois Coroners and Medical Examiners Association for adopting a protocol that ensures religious and cultural sensitivity for the deceased and their families. Included in the protocol is the stipulation, if the coroner or medical examiner determines an infant died of SIDS, the coroner or medical examiner shall not take tissue samples for research purposes if the parents object on grounds that such a procedure conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 210 § 85/11.6 amends the Hospital Licensing Act to require hospitals to provide free of charge information and instructional materials regarding SIDS that explain the medical effects upon infants and young children and emphasize the measures that may reduce the risk. These materials must be provided to parents or guardians of newborns upon discharge from the hospital. Prior to discharge, a nurse or appropriate staff person must review the materials with the infant’s parents or guardian and discuss best practices to reduce the incidence of SIDS as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. (2010 HB 5930)

2011 Ill. Laws, P.A. 97-0083 requires licensed employees of child care facilities who care for infants and newborns to participate in training on SUID, SIDS, and the safe sleep recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics every three years  (2011 HB 2099)

2011 Ill. Laws, P.A. 97-0333 requires that hospitals provide free information on SIDS and educate patients about how to reduce SIDS risks. This information must be provided to all parents and guardians of newborns when discharged from the hospital.  (2011 HB 2099)

Indiana

Ind. Code Ann. § 5-2-8-1 et seq. require a county law enforcement agency program to provide each law enforcement office with continuing education, including the response to a sudden, unexpected infant death.

Ind. Code Ann. § 12-17.2-3.5-5.5 requires licensed child care providers to complete a training course on safe sleeping practices, including practices to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Ind. Code Ann. § 16-31-3-2 requires individuals seeking certification to provide emergency medical services to meet certain minimum requirements, including successfully completing a basic course on SIDS.

Ind. Code Ann. § 36-2-14-6.7 makes specifications regarding the autopsy of a child who may have died from SIDS.

Ind. Code Ann. § 36-8-10.5-7 requires the minimum basic training for full-time firefighters and volunteer firefighters to include successful completion of a basic course on SIDS.

Iowa

Iowa Code Ann. § 135.43 establishes an Iowa child death review team and specifies that the review team shall include a certified or licensed professional who is knowledgeable concerning SIDS.

Iowa Code Ann. § 331.802 specifies that a summary of the findings from an autopsy of a child under the age of two years, whose death results from an unknown cause or if the circumstances surrounding the death indicate SIDS may have been the cause of death, shall be transmitted by the physician who performed the autopsy to the county medical examiner.  This report shall also be given to the parent of the child.

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22a-242  requires that when a child dies, any law enforcement officer or health care provider having knowledge of the death shall immediately notify the coroner.  The coroner shall investigate the death and direct a pathologist to perform an autopsy.  A coroner shall not make a determination that the death of a child less than one year of age was caused by SIDS unless an autopsy is performed.

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 65-508 requires the rules and regulations for the operation and maintenance of maternity centers or child care facilities to promote the health, safety and welfare of the residents who are served by such facilities by ensuring SIDS and safe sleep practices training, among other provisions. (HB 2365)

Kentucky

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 72.025 requires a coroner to perform a post-mortem examination when the death of an infant appears to be caused by SIDS, in that the infant has no previous medical history to explain the death.

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 213.011 provides definitions for terms within the chapter, including a definition for SIDS.

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 213.161 creates a SIDS program in the Cabinet for Health Services to obtain information which may be useful to research organizations studying the causes and incidence of SIDS.

Louisiana

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 33:1563 directs a coroner to perform an autopsy in all cases of infants under the age of one year who die unexpectedly without explanation. If the coroner finds the cause of death to be SIDS, he shall notify the director of the parish health unit within 48 hours after such determination. 

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:2019 provides specifications for child death investigations and establishes the Child Death Review Panel. The law requires that a health professional with expertise in SIDS be appointed to the Panel from a list of three names submitted by the Louisiana State Medical Society.

Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 22 § 261 establishes a multidisciplinary panel to review maternal and infant deaths through access to relevant data.  (2005 Me. Laws, Chap. 467, HB 984)

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 22 § 3025 specifies the circumstances of death that must be reported, including cases of SIDS and all other deaths of children under the age of 18 unless clearly certifiable by an attending physician as due to specific natural causes unrelated to abuse or neglect.

Maryland

Md. Health-General Code Ann. § 5-701 et seq. establish the Child Fatality Review Team. Require a representative of State SIDS Information and Counseling Program to be on the Child Fatality Review Team.

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 38, § 2A establishes state and local Child Fatality Review Teams and provisions for these teams.  The law requires the director of the Massachusetts Center for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or his designee to be a member of the state team and each local team.     

Mass. Acts, Chap. 336 (House Bill 1678 of 2008) requires the state child fatality review team to conduct a study of training and protocols related to the sudden, unexplained deaths of children under three years of age and to examine the feasibility of adopting statewide training protocols for specified first responders and investigators. A report and recommendations by the team were due to the secretary of public safety, the secretary of health and human services and the legislature by July 1, 2009.

Michigan  
Minnesota

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 144.07 allows the commissioner to promote programs and services available for parents and families of victims of SIDS and collect and report to the legislature the most current information regarding the frequency and causes of SIDS.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 144.222 provides specifications for fetal death reports. Requires each infant death identified as SIDS to be reported within five days to the state registrar. 

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 145.898 requires the Department of Health tol develop uniform investigative guidelines and protocols for coroners and medical examiners conducting death investigations and autopsies of children under two years of age.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 245A.1435, § 245A.144, § 245A.1444, § 245A.40 and § 245A.50 require staff persons, caregivers and helpers of licensed foster care providers to document that they have received training on reducing the risk of unexpected infant death and abusive head trauma from shaking infants and young children before assisting in the care of infants or children through five years of age. Training must be completed at least once every five years  for foster care providers, once every two years for licensed family child care providers, and once every year for employees of licensed child care centers. The law also requires licensed child care providers to place infants to sleep on their backs, unless the infant's physician provides documentation directing an alternative sleeping position for the infant. The law prohibits child care providers from placing pillows, quilts or other soft products in the crib with the infant. The law was amended by 2013 Minn. House Bill 1233 to include additional requirements for the parent directive and for the crib bedding.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 390.11 requires all sudden or unexpected deaths to be promptly reported to the coroner or medical examiner for evaluation, including unexpected deaths of children.

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. § 41-61-59 requires the medical examiner to be notified of any death of a child under the age of two years where death results from an unknown cause or where circumstances surrounding the death indicate that SIDS may be the cause of death.

Miss. Code Ann. § 41-61-65 (2003) requires the medical examiner to perform death scene investigations for all unexplained infant deaths. When the circumstances described in § 41-61-59 (2j) are met, an autopsy must be performed and the report of findings be given to the Department of Health, the infant's attending physician, and the local SIDS coordinator. (HB 998)

Miss. Code Ann. § 41-111-1 creates the Child Death Review Panel and specifies that a representative from the State SIDS Alliance be a member. 2013 House Bill 125 extends the sunset date of the panel to July 1, 2018.

Missouri Mo. Ann. Stat. § 194.117 requires any person who has knowledge of the death of a child under the age of one year and over the age of one week, where the child died suddenly, to notify the county coroner or medical examiner. All such deaths shall be autopsied by a certified child death pathologist and the results shall be given to the state department of health and senior services.  Allows the department of health and senior services to receive grants or other aid for research to determine the cause and prevention of deaths caused by SIDS.
Montana

Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-411 relates to the medical examiner and autopsies. The law provides legislative findings, declares SIDS as a serious problem within Montana and that public interest is served by research and study of SIDS and its potential causes and indications.

Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-412 specifies that when the coroner's findings are consistent with SIDS, the coroner may state on the death certificate that SIDS was the cause of death.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-2606 specifies that child care providers who are required to be licensed under § 71-1911 must receive training and information on SIDS.

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-605 and § 23-1824 state that no cause of death shall be certified in the case of the sudden and unexpected death of a child between the ages of one week and three years until an autopsy has been performed by a qualified pathologist.  The law does not allow a death certificate to cite SIDS as the cause of death until such an autopsy is performed.

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-605.04 relates to SIDS reporting requirements.  The law requires the Nebraska Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Foundation to be notified of the name of the parents of the SIDS victim. 

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-2101 et seq. define SIDS and shaken baby syndrome.  Prior to hospital release new parents are required to view a video presentation and read materials on SIDS and shaken baby syndrome and to sign a release indicating that they have either done so or that they refused.  The law also designates the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct public awareness activities aimed at SIDS and shaken baby syndrome prevention.

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1902  requires the Department of Education and the Department of Health to distribute a packet of information to all parents of children born after January 1, 2003 that includes information on the prevention of SIDS.

Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 432B.405 specifies the purpose of organizing child death review teams and requires a multidisciplinary team to review the death of a child if the child dies of SIDS.

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 440.420, § 440.435 and § 440.437 specify in cases where the cause or suspected cause of death is SIDS, the coroner may authorize the performance of a postmortem examination. The findings shall be summarized and included with the coroner's record of death.  This report shall be filed with the state registrar.  The state registrar shall annually report the number of cases in which the cause of death was determined to be SIDS.

New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 611-B:22 specifies in any case where a child whose death is determined to have been the result of sudden unexplained infant death, the supervising medical examiner shall file a record of the case with the bureau of maternal and child health.

New Jersey

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 26:5D-2 provides legislative findings related to SIDS. The law calls for a program to be established for identifying and treating infants who are potential victims of SIDS, referring potential SIDS victims and their families to sources of treatment and counseling, referring families whose children have been victims of SIDS to counseling and other support services and providing an educational program to health care professionals to heighten their awareness in detecting potential SIDS victims and in preventing SIDS.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 26:5D-3 directs the commissioner of the Department of Health to establish a program to educate the public and health care professionals about SIDS. The law requires the program to include a referral service for the public and health care professionals on SIDS related services and a 24-hour telephone hotline to provide needed information and referrals. The law also directs the commissioner to encourage the development of local support programs to provide early detection, counseling and referrals for infants who may be at risk of SIDS.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 26:5D-4 directs the commissioner of the Department of Health to establish a SIDS Resource Center within a state medical school. The law requires the SIDS Resource Center to serve as a technical advisory center. The center may offer diagnostic procedures, medical treatment and counseling and other services to assist potential SIDS victims and their families.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 52:17B-88 requires a pediatric pathologist to assist in performing the autopsy, upon the request of the parent, when the suspected cause of death of a child under one year of age is SIDS or the child is between one and three years of age and the death is sudden and unexpected.  The findings and conclusions shall be reported to the child's parents and the State Department of Health and Senior Services within 48 hours after the death of the child.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 52:17B-88.10 et seq. direct the state medical examiner with the commissioner of Health and Senior Services to develop standardized protocols for autopsies performed in cases in which the suspected cause of death of a child under one year of age is SIDS and in which the child is between one and three years of age and the death is sudden and unexpected.  The medical examiner shall also establish a sudden child death autopsy protocol committee to assist in developing and reviewing the protocol.

New Mexico  

New York

N.Y. Public Health Law § 2500-b directs the commissioner to establish a program to study SIDS, which may consist of pilot projects. Such projects include epidemiological investigation, family counseling and evaluation in order to identify the major risk factors in sudden infant deaths with the objective of preventing such deaths.

N.Y. Public Health Law § 4210 directs the commissioner to adopt regulations to establish standard autopsy protocols for any person under the age of one year who dies under circumstances in which death is not anticipated by medical history or the cause is unknown. In developing and implementing these protocols, the commissioner shall consult with a pediatrician with expertise in SIDS and the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Program.

North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1402 creates the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force and specifies that a representative from a SIDS counseling and education program be a member.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 110-91 requires child care facilities to develop a safe sleep policy requiring caregivers to place children on their backs when sleeping in order to reduce the risk of SIDS.

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code § 11-19.1-11 and § 11-19.1-13 require an autopsy be performed by the state forensic examiner or a designated pathologist, after consultation with the parent and upon the death of a minor whose cause of death is suspected to be SIDS.  The parents and the state health officer must be promptly notified of the autopsy results.

N.D. Cent. Code § 23-01-05 requires the state health officer to establish a program to provide information to the surviving family of a child whose cause of death is suspected to have been SIDS.

Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 313.121 requires that if a child under two years of age dies suddenly when in apparent good health, the death must to be reported immediately to the coroner and an autopsy shall be performed. The law also requires the health department to offer the parent any counseling or other supportive services it has available. The state department of health must ensure that current information on SIDS is available for distribution by health districts and departments.

Oklahoma

Okla. Stat. tit. 63 § 949 (2004) requires the Chief Medical Examiner to track and forward records of SIDS and other sudden, unexpected and non-traumatic infant deaths to the Oklahoma SIDS coordinator at the Department of Health and SIDS Foundation of Oklahoma.

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. § 431.120 requires the Oregon Health Authority to routinely conduct epidemiological investigations for SIDS cases.

Pennsylvania

Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. tit. 16 § 1237 and § 4236 require the coroner to perform an investigation to determine whether or not an autopsy should be conducted in cases of sudden infant death syndrome.

2010 Pa. Laws, Act. 73 establishes the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Education and Prevention Program to promote awareness and education relating to SIDS, focusing on the risk factors of SIDS and safe sleeping practices for newborns and infants. The law requires the department of health to design and implement strategies for raising public awareness about SIDS. The law also requires the program to distribute readily understandable information and educational and instructional materials about SIDS. These materials must be provided to parents prior to discharge from hospital or birth center. (HB 47)

Puerto Rico

 

Rhode Island

 

South Carolina

S.C. Code Ann. § 17-5-540 requires the coroner or medical examiner, within 24 hours or one working day, to notify the Department of Child Fatalities when a child's death is unexpected and unexplained including, but not limited to, SIDS.

S.C. Code Ann. § 17-5-520 requires the coroner or medical examiner to immediately request an autopsy by a trained pathologist if a child's death possibly results from SIDS (2007 SB 391).

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 23-14-18 requires the county coroner to investigate, at their discretion, all deaths of children under two years of age resulting from an unknown cause or if the circumstances surrounding the death indicate that SIDS may be the cause of death.

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-1101 creates the Sudden, Unexplained Child Death Act. The law provides legislative findings and definitions.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-1102 requires all emergency medical technicians, professional firefighters and law enforcement officers receive training on handling of cases of sudden, unexplained child death. The training, which must be developed jointly by the departments of health and children's services, must include the importance of being sensitive to the grief of family members. The law also provides that in the case of every sudden, unexplained death of an infant less than one year of age, an autopsy shall be performed by a child death pathologist. Parents who refuse to allow an autopsy on religious grounds can file a petition for an emergency court hearing.  The law requires local law enforcement to conduct a death scene investigation according to protocol developed by the chief medical examiner. 

Tenn. Code Ann. §68-1-1103 requires the commissioner of health to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to all information relating to the occurrence of a sudden unexplained child death. The law relates to SIDS reporting and research. The commissioner must ensure appropriate counseling services are established and maintained for families affected by the occurrence of SIDS. The commissioner must conduct educational programs to inform the general public of any research findings, which may lead to the possible means of prevention, early identification and treatment of SIDS.

Tenn. Code § 68-3-502 specifies that SIDS shall not be listed as the cause of death unless the death meets the definitions provided in § 68-1-1103.

Texas

Tex. Family Code Ann. § 264.502 et seq. specifies that the Child Fatality Review Team Committee shall include a SIDS family service provider.

Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 161.501 requires a hospital, birthing center, physician, nurse midwife or midwife who provides prenatal care to a pregnant woman during gestation or at delivery to provide the woman and the father of the infant, if possible, or another adult caregiver for the infant, with a resource pamphlet. This pamphlet must provide information regarding sudden infant death syndrome, including current recommendations for infant sleeping conditions that lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. (2009 Tex. Gen Laws, Chap. 106; 2009 HB 1510)

Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 673.001 et seq. require the death of a child 12 months old or younger to be immediately reported to the justice of the peace, medical examiner or other proper official if the child dies suddenly or is found dead and if the cause of death is unknown.  An autopsy shall be performed on the child.  The law also directs the department to develop a model program that can be used to provide information and follow-up consultation about SIDS and its characteristic grief-guilt reaction. According to the law, the program should humanize and maximize understanding and the handling of SIDS. The law requires the department to distribute the program to proper agencies, governmental bodies, officials, physicians, nurses, health professionals and citizens. The department may appoint an advisory committee to provide assistance in developing the program.

Tex. Human Resources Code Ann. § 42.0421 requires minimum training standards for employees of licensed day-care centers or group day-care homes that provide care for children up to age 24 months to receive special training regarding the care of those children. The training must include information on preventing SIDS. The law requires an operator of a registered family home who provides care for a child up to age 24 months to complete one hour of annual training on certain relevant issues including preventing SIDS.

Tex. Human Resources Code Ann. § 42.055 requires each child care facility to post in a conspicuous location to all employees and customers a sign with a brief description of SIDS.

Utah

Utah Code Ann. § 26-4-2 and § 26-4-7 define SIDS and require the medical examiner to assume custody of a deceased body if it appears that the death was due to SIDS.

Vermont

 

Virgin Islands

 

Virginia

Va. Code § 32.1-283, § 32.1-283.1 et seq.§ 32.1-285 and § 32.1-285.1 define SIDS and require the medical examiner to be notified and perform an autopsy in cases of the sudden death of any infant less than eighteen months of age whose death is suspected to be attributable to SIDS. Establishes a state child fatality review team and the team shall review sudden child deaths occurring within the first eighteen months of life.  Provides for members, including one representative from the Virginia Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance be appointed for a term of three years.

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 43.103.100 directs the council to research and develop an appropriate training component on the subject of sudden, unexplained child death, including but not limited to SIDS. The law lists the training components, which include medical information on SIDS for first responders; information on community resources and support groups available to assist families who have lost a child to SIDS; and the value of timely communication between the county coroner and the public health department. The law requires the council to work with volunteer groups with expertise in the area of sudden, unexplained child death, including but not limited to the SIDS foundation of Washington and the Washington association of county officials. The law requires the basic training for death investigators to include a module that specifically addresses the investigation of the sudden unexplained deaths of children under the age of three.  Directs the council to develop a protocol for autopsies of children under the age of three whose deaths are sudden and unexplained.

West Virginia

W. Va. Code § 16-1-6 directs the commissioner of the bureau for public health to provide a program for the care, treatment and rehabilitation of the parents of SIDS victims. The law also requires the commissioner to provide for the training and employment of personnel to provide the requisite rehabilitation to parents of SIDS victims. The commissioner is required to educate the public about SIDS and is responsible for reporting to the legislature the incidence of SIDS cases occurring in West Virginia. The commissioner must provide for the education of police, employees and volunteers of all emergency services concerning SIDS. The commissioner must also require the state SIDS advisory council to develop regional family support groups to provide peer support to families of SIDS victims. The commissioner must request appropriation of funds in both federal and state budgets to fund the SIDS program.

W. Va. Code § 16-1-7 directs the commissioner of the bureau for public health to serve on the SIDS advisory council.

W. Va. Code § 61-12-10 specifies that in cases of the death of any infant where SIDS is the suspected cause of death and the medical examiner considers it advisable to perform an autopsy, it is the duty of the medical examiner to notify the SIDS program within the division of maternal and child health.

W. Va. Code § 49-5D-5 establishes a child fatality review team under the office of the chief medical examiner. Provides that the child fatality review team is a multidisciplinary team created to review the deaths of children under the age of eighteen years and shall include one representative of the Sudden Infant Death Program of the Office of Maternal and Child Health.

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 48.67 and § 49.155 direct the department to establish requirements and minimum standards for child welfare agencies, day care centers, foster homes, treatment foster homes, group homes, shelter care facilities and county departments. The minimum requirements must include a training component on the most current medically accepted methods of preventing SIDS.

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 253.14 directs the department to prepare and distribute printed informational materials relating to SIDS. The materials must be directed toward the concerns of parents of victims of SIDS and will be distributed to maximize availability to the parents. The law requires that the department make available upon request follow-up counseling by trained health care professionals for parents and families of victims of SIDS.

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 979.03 requires that if a child under the age of two years dies suddenly and unexpectedly under circumstances indicating that the death may have been caused by SIDS, the coroner or medical examiner must notify the child's parents that an autopsy will be performed unless the parents object. The parents of the child shall be promptly notified of the cause of death and of the availability of counseling services.

Wyoming

 

Sources: National Conference of State Legislatures, StateNet.
Note: List may not be comprehensive, but is representative of state laws that exist. NCSL appreciates additions and corrections.
   

Resources

American SIDS Institute

National Sudden Infant Death Resource Center (NSIDRC)

Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome
NCSL LegisBrief, March 2006

 

This site is made possible by project, UC4MC21528, from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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