Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Repeated Unexpected Infant Deaths Most Likely To Be From Natural Causes

Date:
January 14, 2005
Source:
Lancet
Summary:
The most comprehensive epidemiological study to date into recurring sudden unexplained infant death syndrome (SIDS) is published in this week's issue of THE LANCET. Authors of the study conclude that natural causes can explain the deaths of a second or even third unexpected infant death occurring in the same family.

December 30, 2004 -- The most comprehensive epidemiological study to date into recurring sudden unexplained infant death syndrome (SIDS) is published in this week's issue of THE LANCET. Authors of the study conclude that natural causes can explain the deaths of a second or even third unexpected infant death occurring in the same family.

There have been suggestions that when two or three unexpected unexplained infant deaths occur within a family they are more likely to be unnatural than natural. Robert Carpenter (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK) and colleagues assessed the proportion of natural and unnatural infant deaths (ie, deaths before the age of 1 year), occurring in families enrolled on a support programme for parents who had previously experienced SIDS.

The Care of Next Infant programme (CONI) supports parents who have experienced SIDS and is currently available in over 90% of health districts in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The investigators studied all deaths in 6373 infants who had completed the CONI programme by December, 1999. After a CONI death, detailed enquiries were made into the previous death and the CONI death, including a family interview, a review of autopsies, and case discussion.

57 (8.9 per 1000) CONI infants died. Nine deaths were inevitable, and 48 were unexpected. 44 families lost one child, and two families lost two children. Of the 46 first CONI deaths, 40 were natural; the other six were probable homicides, five committed by one or both parents (two criminally convicted). Enquiries identified 18 families with two SIDS deaths and two families with probable covert double homicides.

Professor Carpenter comments: "Our data suggest that second deaths are not rare and that the majority, 80–90%, are natural. Families who have experienced three unexpected deaths also occur. The study included two families in which there were two CONI deaths--one triple SIDS and one triple filicide."

He adds: "This study is the largest follow-up of families who have had a sudden unexpected and unexplained infant death. The CONI programme has been available in over 75 % of districts in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland since 1994, and we would know if many eligible mothers declined to participate. We have therefore probably included the majority of families in which there have been two or three sudden and unexpected deaths in recent years. Consequently, although child abuse is not uncommon, from the best available data, we believe that the occurrence of a second or third sudden unexpected death in infancy within a family, although relatively rare, is in most cases from natural causes. For a host of reasons, not the least of which is the protection of parents from false accusations, it is essential that all sudden unexpected infant deaths are submitted to a detailed, expert investigation like this study, which includes a full family history, clinical history, and paediatric autopsy."

In an accompanying commentary (p 3), Tom Matthews (University College Dublin, Ireland), states: "Carpenter and colleagues document the difficulties in categorising some unexpected deaths, with deaths labelled as infanticide only if supported by unambiguous evidence. Their main conclusion is that the recurrence rate of unexpected deaths or SIDS is about 6 per 1000 and that most of these second deaths are from natural causes. So the mere occurrence of a second death is, in itself, insufficient to justify the label of infanticide. Although some families with an unexpected death have worryingly disorganised parenting skills and support structures, Carpenter and colleagues show that unexpected deaths recur, which implies that a diagnosis of infanticide should require more definite evidence."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lancet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lancet. "Repeated Unexpected Infant Deaths Most Likely To Be From Natural Causes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111154704.htm>.
Lancet. (2005, January 14). Repeated Unexpected Infant Deaths Most Likely To Be From Natural Causes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111154704.htm
Lancet. "Repeated Unexpected Infant Deaths Most Likely To Be From Natural Causes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111154704.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins