Seizure Surveillance Video Captures Toddler’s Last Night Before Sudden Unexplained Death

Bel Air, Maryland – The last night of 17-month-old Hayden Fell’s life seemed like any other normal bedtime routine. However, the next morning, Hayden’s parents found him unresponsive in his crib, becoming one of the many toddlers and preschoolers in the U.S. who die suddenly in their sleep with no clear cause.

A recent study by researchers at NYU Langone Health suggests that seizures during sleep may be a potential cause of some cases of sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC). The study, which analyzed home monitoring video, captured the deaths of seven sleeping toddlers and found evidence linking seizures to their deaths.

Similar to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies, SUDC occurs in children over the age of one and has remained a mystery in the medical field. However, the new study provides the first direct evidence of a link between seizures and SUDC, with five of the toddlers showing signs of seizures just before their deaths.

Despite the common occurrence of fever-related seizures in young children, affecting 2% to 5% of toddlers, the study raises the question of whether these seizures could be a warning of something more serious in some cases. The families involved in the study hope that these findings can eventually lead to answers and potentially change the outcome for children at risk.

SUDC is estimated to claim over 400 lives a year in the U.S, with over half of the deaths occurring in 1- to 4-year-olds. While sudden infant death receives more public attention and research funding, SUDC affects older children and remains less understood. Additional research is needed to further understand the potential relationship between seizures and sudden unexplained deaths in children.