Can a child be fine one day and then die the next?
Tragically, they can.
There is even a name for it – sudden unexplained death in childhood.
Sudden Death in Children
Although 10% of deaths in children over age 12 months are classified as sudden death, most have explanations, such as asthma, epilepsy, or a heart problem (congenital malformations and arrhythmias). Unfortunately, some of these conditions, especially some infections and heart problems, aren’t discovered until after the child dies.
“Most sudden cardiac deaths that remain unexplained after necropsy are probably caused by primary cardiac arrhythmias.”
Sudden death in children and adolescents
About 16% of these sudden deaths don’t have any explanation though.
Surprisingly, these types of sudden, unexplained deaths are the 5th leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4 years. That adds up to about 400 deaths a year in the United States alone!
Vaccines and Sudden Unexplained Death in Children
Have you guessed the connection with vaccines?
If up to 16% of children who die suddenly don’t have a good explanation for why they died, then that leaves some to blame vaccines, often with a little help with myths and misinformation from anti-vaccine folks.
“…making general assumptions and drawing conclusions about vaccinations causing deaths based on spontaneous reports to VAERS – some of which might be anecdotal or second-hand – or from case reports in the media, is not a scientifically valid practice.”
Miller et al on Deaths following vaccination: What does the evidence show?
That’s despite the fact that both our safety monitoring systems and other studies have shown that vaccines are not associated with sudden unexplained deaths. In fact, deaths after vaccines are very rare.
“As for vaccines causing death, again so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically.”
WHO on Six common misconceptions about immunization
“At the present time there is not enough known about the underlying mechanisms of death in SUDC to allow prediction of which children might die suddenly and unexpectedly. Additionally, there is no way to prevent SUDC since its cause is unknown. Through research, we strive to discover the risk factors and underlying causes of SUDC that will lead to its prevention. In the meantime, optimal pediatric care recommendations, including attending well child visits, maintaining current vaccinations, and obtaining appropriate health care when clinically indicated, should be followed.”
SUDC Foundation on Frequently Asked Questions
And it’s not just SIDS. We also see a “healthy vaccinee effect” in older kids, who have lower mortality rates than the general population, which includes some folks who aren’t vaccinated.
We don’t know what causes sudden unexplained death in children, although with continued research we hopefully soon will, and can then learn to prevent them. Until then, parents should feel confident that it is not caused by the vaccines, which are safe and necessary and work to protect them from many life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.
What to Know About Vaccines and Sudden Unexplained Death in Children
Vaccines are not associated with sudden unexplained death in children.
More on Vaccines and Sudden Unexplained Death in Children
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- Parental Grief
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- Sudden death in children and adolescents
- Facts about Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood
- SUDC Foundation Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you explain SUDC to someone?
- Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) Registry (SUDC)
- SUDC Foundation: An Answer When There’s No Explanation
- WHO – Six common misconceptions about immunization
- Properly evaluating vaccine mortality – let’s not abuse VAERS
- AAP – A New Approach to the Investigation of Sudden Unexpected Death
- CDC – Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- CDC – Medical Examiners’ and Coroners’ Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting
- Cause of death statements and certification of natural and unnatural deaths
- CDC – Sudden, Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Curriculum Guide
- NIH – Learning About An Undiagnosed Condition in a Child
- Coping with clinical uncertainty
- Tolerating Uncertainty — The Next Medical Revolution?
- Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood
- Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy
- Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation
- Investigating fetal, infant and child death
- Study – Sudden unexpected death in early childhood: general observations in a series of 151 cases
- Study – Sudden unexpected death in childhood: a report of 50 cases.
- Study – Vaccination and 30-Day Mortality Risk in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults
- Study – Deaths following vaccination: What does the evidence show?
- Study – Deaths Reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, United States, 1997-2013.
- Study – Mortality rates and cause-of-death patterns in a vaccinated population.
- Study – The UK accelerated immunisation programme and sudden unexpected death in infancy: case-control study
- EMEA update on hexavalent vaccines: Hexavac and Infanrix Hexa
- Study – Sudden Unexpected Deaths and Vaccinations during the First Two Years of Life in Italy: A Case Series Study
- Study – Combined hexavalent diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-hepatitis B-inactivated poliovirus-Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine; Infanrix™ hexa
- Study – Lack of association between hepatitis B birth immunization and neonatal death: a population-based study from the vaccine safety datalink project.
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