Over the past ten years, rates for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have fallen an incredible 29 percent. Comparing maps of recent SIDS cases with those of SIDS cases ten years ago helps to further show how things have changed for the better, on a national scale. In examining trends across the country, families and medical professionals alike are able to see what initiatives are working to combat a condition that still has so much more to be learned about.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SIDS is "the death of an infant less than 1 year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death is not immediately obvious before investigation." SIDS cases "cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history," making the deaths especially tragic.
The CDC also estimates that there were 1,600 SIDS cases in the United States in 2015 — numbers which, as mentioned, have been dropping steadily. To better understand where, exactly, SIDS rates are declining, take a look at the maps below. Each map breaks down the ratio of SIDS deaths to their respective state's number of births, with darker shades of blue indicating higher rates of SIDS and lighter shades signifying lower rates. Also of note: The data for "states that have fewer than 10 cases per year is suppressed to protect the identity of the families," as families are unfortunately shamed or suffer blame in the aftermath of a SIDS ruling. Thus, the striped states should be more or less discounted for now.
Given the available data from the CDC, the following two maps were made using numbers from 2007 to 2008 and then from 2013 to 2014.
As you can see, SIDS rates vary by state, and many states saw fewer cases of SIDS (shown by lighter shades of blue). Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Washington, Virginia, and others all managed to lower their numbers. Whereas the majority of states saw improvements, it shouldn't be ignored that some states — like Oklahoma and Iowa, for instance — did see subtle increases in their SIDS cases.
Regardless, the data represented in these maps is good news. The bottom line is that SIDS cases are going down, and the hope is that they'll continue to do so. What's more: There are also plenty of policy and health care solutions to SIDS that can do even more to bring the numbers lower. Supporting such measures will help the maps lighten, until each state is painted in the lightest shade of blue possible.