What Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

The death of an infant is one of the most traumatic events a parent can ever experience. In many cases, a marriage does not survive the death of a child as the traumatic erodes the psychological wellbeing and communication of the surviving parents. Worse yet, the sudden and unexpected death of a child of divorced or separated parents can drive a violent wedge between them and even lead to legal action.

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)—or Sudden Unexplained Infinity Death Syndrome (SUIDS)—awareness month. This refers to the unexpected and often unexplained death of an infant who has not reached the age of one. This blog looks at the possible causes, preventative measures, and legal implications of SIDS.

Causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS or SUIDS cases inherently involve some degree of uncertainty regarding the cause of an infant’s death. However, studies regarding the phenomenon are starting to shed light on some possible reasons for this tragic condition.

Many researchers have narrowed SIDS or SUIDS causes a few contributing factors involving an infant’s sleeping environment, genetic predisposition for risky health conditions, and sleep position. Studies have shown that babies who are positioned on their stomachs to sleep are at a higher risk of SIDS or SUIDS compared to babies who sleep on their backs.

Other contributing factors to SIDS or SUIDS may include:

  • Dangerously defective products
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Caretaker substance abuse

As a result, parents of newborn infants are encouraged to restrict their child’s sleeping position to lying on their backs. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has investigated possible products liability cases involving baby products and issued warnings and advisory notices about the risks associated with soft and loose bedding, and the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission has established safety standards for such items.

Legal Implications of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Certain persons have special legal duties regarding the care and safety of children. Manufacturers of baby cribs and other products are legally obligated to avoid introducing into the market any product that presents an unreasonable risk to a child’s safety.

Furthermore, babysitters—whether they’re professional or amateur caretakers—must take reasonable steps to avoid causing serious injury to the child for which they provide care. Professional caretakers should be trained in SIDS risks. Parents who use amateur babysitters—such as other family members or friends—should instruct them to avoid placing a child on their stomachs for too long.

When a caretaker or parent has a problem regarding substance abuse, their neglectful behavior can place an infant’s safety at considerable risk. If a person’s substance abuse causes the severe injury or death of an infant, their negligence or reckless disregard for the child’s safety can make them liable in a civil or criminal case for the neglect or abuse of the child.

In a subsequent child custody case, a parent who was found liable for negligently or recklessly causing an infant’s serious injury or death will have a permanent black mark in the eyes of a court presiding over a custody determination. Court’s must consider the best interests of a child during custody proceedings. Factors that a court is legally required to assess including any history of child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.

Moshtael Family Law Is Here to Help

Are you looking for a legal advocate who is committed to serving the best interests of you and your child? If so, you should consult an experienced attorney from Moshtael Family Law. We have the necessary experience and sophisticated understanding of California family law to ensure that you and your family’s rights and interests are protected.

Call our office at (714) 909-2561 or visit us online to arrange for an initial case evaluation regarding your case.