Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Debated in UK Parliament for the First Time

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On Tuesday, January 17,  British Conservative Party politician Kwasi Kwarteng led a Westminster Hall debate on the sudden unexplained deaths of children without any known cause.

SUDC is the sudden and unexpected death of a child between 1 and 18 years of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation is conducted, according to SUDC UK.

Former UK chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, who led the discussion, argued that SUDC is one of the country’s most ‘serious medical phenomenon’ that has thus far received little attention.

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Kwasi thanked everyone who had shared their experiences and ideas during the debate.

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“The initial response to this debate has been incredibly heartwarming and impressive. In the last few days, dozens and dozens of people have written in. They have outlined their experiences and told us about their own tragedies and their families, which have been torn apart and devastated by this phenomenon,” he said.

“It would be invidious of me to talk about those responses individually, but common themes run through all the submissions in this overwhelming response—in all the evidence we have accumulated in the last few days…”

“I commend the many people here who have gone through that heart-wrenching experience, who have had the courage to reach out to come and speak to MPs, and who work incredibly hard to make sure this goes further up the agenda,” he continued.

Read or watch the debate for his full speech here.

More from BBC:

The MPs were united in their call for more research to be carried out; only 55 research papers have been published worldwide into SUDC, whereas 12,000 have been conducted into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a condition also known as cot death. Since the early 1990s there has been an 80% reduction in these deaths.

They also called for the NHS website to be updated to include information about SUDC and for there to be more training for medical practitioners.

The debate heard many children whose deaths have been classed as SUDC had febrile seizures. However, the link between febrile seizures and SUDC has not been proved.

Mr Farron said children receiving medical care for febrile seizures should be seen as a red flag.

Neil O’Brien, the minister for primary care and public health, said of the 204 unexpected and sudden deaths of children reviewed by child death overview panels in 2022, 32 were classified as unexplained.

He said the National Child Mortality Database, which was established in 2018, aimed to systematically capture information about every child death and was working with the NHS to track modifiable factors.

The minister said every area in the country had child death overview panels, which were responsible for reviewing information on all child deaths and looking for patterns and service improvements.

He added the University of Bristol had been contacted to discuss potential research priorities.

The NHS Children and Young People Programme was reviewing patient information to make sure it was relevant and appropriate, he added.

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