Sudden unexpected death in infancy and childhood - multi-agency guidelines for care and investigation

When a child dies, families desperately need to know what happened. To understand why an infant died, it is vital agencies work together, share information and keep families included at every stage. These guidelines were published in November 2016 by a multi-agency working group convened by the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath) and RCPCH.

The guidelines aim to be sensitive to the needs of grief-stricken parents while also enabling an explanation to be found. They also make recommendations to each profession and outline best practice for each part of the investigation process. 

The original guidelines published in 2004 followed high profile cases of miscarriages of justice involving the prosecution of mothers for causing the deaths of their babies. These events raised serious concerns about the role of the expert witness in court, issues about standards of proof, the quality of evidence and about the procedures adopted for the investigation of sudden unexpected deaths of infants.