Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
The Mysterious Malady
The SIDS definition is purposefully vague and reflects how little actually is known about what causes the syndrome. SIDS victims seem to stop breathing in their sleep. They typically are found lifeless, limp, and blue. Often they have blood-tinged mucus coming from their mouth or nose. Ninety percent of SIDS victims die before six months. Most appear perfectly healthy beforehand or at most have a slight cold. There is a statistically significant correlation between SIDS deaths and respiratory infections prior to death. Although they are usually found in their cribs, babies have died of SIDS in car seats, strollers, and their mother's arms.
Although SIDS researchers have investigated hundreds of possible theories regarding the causes of SIDS, no clear answers have been found. Autopsies fail to show any abnormalities in SIDS victims; they seem to be healthy, normal babies. Scientists are not even sure whether death is caused by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.
Some experts estimate that 1-20% of all diagnosed SIDS deaths are actually the result of other causes, including child abuse and murder. For this reason an autopsy and a thorough examination of the scene of death must be done. This suspicion adds to the parents' grief and guilt. It also confuses the public's understanding of SIDS. But until a more definitive diagnosis of SIDS exists such steps must be taken to rule out the possibility of murder.