SIDS: Newspaper Series Debunks ‘Breakthrough’ 1972 Study
A three-part series in the Syracuse Post-Standard disclosed the saga of Dr. Alfred Steinschneider's research on sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, and how the study may have inadvertently helped cover up a series of infanticides. In 1972, Steinschneider theorized that SIDS was caused by extended periods of apnea, or pauses of breathing during the sleep cycle. His research hailed as a "stunning breakthrough," Steinschneider promoted attaching at-risk babies to machines that sounded an alarm when a baby stopped breathing. Pushing into the fore of pediatric research on SIDS, Steinschneider's work "led hundreds of thousands of parents and pediatricians to wire their babies to monitors, and shaped the way a generation of doctors, police and prosecutors looked at SIDS." But just two years ago, a mother of two of the patients "whose deaths figured so prominently in the 1972 study," confessed to murdering her children. Steinschneider responded by saying that any mistakes in his study were "honest mistakes." But further research by Syracuse newspapers revealed that his study was based on "flimsy research," that there was no evidence the apnea monitors helped prevent SIDS and that an "unknown number of multiple SIDS cases in families ... were mislabeled as SIDS" (3/17).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.