Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

In order to accurately define the nature and extent of SIDS in Ireland, it is necessary that all sudden unexpected infant deaths are registered with the National SIDS Register. Direct early notification by professionals to the Register is required to ensure complete ascertainment of suspected SIDS cases.

When a child dies suddenly and unexpectedly they are usually brought to the nearest Emergency Department and the nurse on duty is often the first person that the parents meet. However, any individual is welcome to contact the register regarding a notification.  The register can be notified with the details of the death by completing a notification form and sending it by fax or post and may be contacted at the following Numbers:

Tle: (01) 878 8455, Fax: No: (01) 8787696, Hotline: (087) 242 3777 (24 hour)

These numbers are available for notification but also for support both for professionals and families.  We will be happy to assist you in dealing with the sudden death of an infant or young child or help you in answering any queries that the family may have. This notification is strictly confidential and if the family so wish the Register can contact them at a later date.

Please complete the national SIDS notification form and fax to the National SIDS Register.


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is defined as “the sudden death of an infant or young child which is unexpected by history and in which a thorough post mortem examination fails to demonstrate an adequate cause of death”. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies aged four weeks to one year.

Medical / Paramedical Issues

Infant dies -- Call for help, Ambulance

  • Inform parents / family members of the hospital you are taking the child to
  • Allow parents the opportunity to travel in the ambulance with their child
  • Go to the emergency department and not to the mortuary
  • Inform the Gardaí and senior nurse of all relevant information
  • Leave your name and work contact number with a member of the family

GP / PHN / Practice Nurse / Community Midwife

  • Make contact with the parents/family member as soon as you are notified of the child’s death
  • If the child is pronounced dead at home organize transport of the child to Casualty for post-mortem
  • If parents wish to take their child home after the post-mortem, give support and guidance with this request
  • Inform the family about the SIDS support group and initiate contact where required
  • Ensure that momentos of the baby are obtained e.g. photos, hand and foot prints etc

Senior Designated Nurse

  • Ensure that a medical person has advised the family of their infant’s death
  • Take parents/family members to a private room and remain with them offering support for as long as they wish
  • Facilitate parents/family members in understanding the information then receive from various members of staff
  • Ensure parents have as much time as possible with their child before and after the post-mortem examination
  • Encourage parents to hold their child for as long as they wish
  • Arrange for momentos of the baby eg photos, hand and foot prints and a lock of hair to be given to the parents
  • Suggest that they bring to the hospital the clothes that they wish their baby to be dressed in
  • Ensure that parents have your name and contact number and ensure that all staff are aware of the child’s death
  • Inform ISIDA’s National Sudden Infant Death Register above (24 hours)
  • Inform the relevant professionals: listed below
  • Collect the medical, social and family history
  • Answer any medical questions the family may ask
  • Explain the preliminary post-mortem process to the family
  • Provide the pathologist with essential information for the post-mortem examination
  • Explain the full post-mortem results to the family
  • Give families medical support and information

Suggested Checklist Following the death of a child:

SIDS Staff Checklist
  • Paediatrician
  • Pastoral Care
  • Gardaí
  • Pathologist
  • Social Worker
  • Coroner
  • General Practitioner
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Obstetrician

Content by Miriam Rigney CNM2 ED CUH, Dr Íomhar O' Sullivan. Based on" SIDS Model of Care for Professionals" Last review Dr ÍOS 31/08/22.