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March 16 , 2008

Sudden Infant Death or Infanticide?

An Unresolved Mystery


Sudden Infant Death is one of the leading causes of mortality in childhood. Its cause has not been firmly established despite extensive research. One widely accepted theory of causation was a disturbance of sleep with a fatal disorder of respiration during sleep. Support for this theory was published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The author encounters a family who has had two children die of Sudden Infant Death when he answers a call for an infant brought dead on arrival to a hospital emergency room. The family chooses to have him follow their family as the attending pediatrician through the births and deaths of four subsequent children, also diagnosed by the Chicago Medical Examiner as sudden unexplained deaths. All of the children were evaluated immediately after death and subsequently to the time of their demise by one of the country's outstanding infant sleep study centers and found to have histories of abnormal sleep patterns with the repetition of fatal outcomes. A suspicion arises among both medical experts and law enforcement authorities that the infant deaths might actually result from fatal interventions by the mother. Intense investigations by police and states attorney investigation teams fail to result in any indictments or prosecutions despite strong suspicions and accusations by several coroners and evidence gathering bodies. The mother is subsequently killed in an auto accident never having been charged.
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