In an article by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the racial disparities in sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) were examined. While general infant mortality rates have continuously fallen in the US through 2020, SUID rates have remained stagnant. Moreover, in 2020 researchers discovered a rise in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rates, as well as an increase in SUID for non-Hispanic Black Americans. This statistic is concerning and indicates that non-Hispanic Black Americans were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, due to it exacerbating the pre-existing health, social, and economic disparities historically faced by this community.

Since the general SUID rate did not change, the changes in SIDS rates can likely be explained by inconsistencies in the diagnostic criteria. These deviations need to be addressed and regulated, as this inhibits studying SUID trends and implementation of effective interventions. Moreover, the racial disparity in 2020 SUID rates for Black Americans indicates a larger societal failing. Lack of educational resources, generational poverty, unstable housing, little mental health support, and limited access to healthcare all lead to higher, but preventable, rates of SUID. Instead of individual blame, now is the time to implement comprehensive change that stems from the government and community level.

By Olivia LaMarco, Policy Intern