Los Angeles County Health Officials Accuse Foundation of Overstatement of Local SIDS Deaths
Los Angeles County health officials allege that the SIDS Foundation of Southern California, which raises funds to counsel families affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, has overstated the "local death toll" from the disease and has "breached the confidentiality of families whose children have died," according to a letter sent to the foundation this week. The Los Angeles Times reports that county health officials said they no longer will provide the group with the names of children "identified as possible SIDS victims." The foundation said in the group's January newsletter that the SIDS rate had increased in southern California and listed the names of 75 children who died in 2001. County health officials, however, said that they only "officially classified" 22 infant deaths last year as SIDS deaths -- the "lowest number ever," the Times reports. In the future, county health officials will inform families "how to contact the foundation if they want help," and the foundation will have access only to the names of children who died of SIDS after the coroner's office has completed the death certificates. Margot Bennett, executive director of the foundation, said the group published the names to honor the children, adding that the foundation has listed such names for "several years" and has never before received objections from the county. She said that although some of the statistics may have been inaccurate, "any mistakes were inadvertent," adding, "We want to correct whatever we've done by accident, with no malice absolutely. We thought we were providing a service" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.