Pediatric Association Recommends Pre-Autopsy Exam for SIDS
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new guidelines calling for all suspected cases of sudden infant death syndrome to be investigated by a child abuse expert before an autopsy is conducted, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The AAP and the government already recommend death-scene investigations and autopsies for all SIDS cases, but the new guidelines for the first time recommend that a "child abuse expert" perform a pre-autopsy exam to determine whether a child has died from SIDS or murdered. The new recommendations, published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, stem from "growing fears" that a number of reported SIDS cases are actually murders (Tanner, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/6). A 1997 report by British researchers examined 11 reported cases of SIDS and found that eight of the children involved in those cases actually died from suffocation at the hands of their parents (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/6). Kent Hymel, a member of the AAP's child abuse committee, said that additional investigation of SIDS cases would likely reveal that some are murders (AP/USA Today, 2/6). Hymel said it is important to have SIDS cases investigated by a child abuse expert before an autopsy is performed because it is "virtually impossible 'to distinguish at autopsy between SIDS and accidental or deliberate asphyxiation with a soft object'" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/6). The SIDS rate in the United States fell more than 40% between 1992 and 1998 due to a national campaign urging parents to put their infants to bed on their backs. However, SIDS remains the leading cause of death for infants under 6 months (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/6).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.