More Study on Unexplained Infants Deaths Urged
Better evidence and more research are urgently needed to identify suspicious infant deaths, experts said today. An estimated one in 10 sudden unexplained infant deaths - equivalent to between 30 and 40 a year in England and Wales - could be due to a range of crimes, including murder and neglect.
But experts said the evidence used to determine whether or not a crime has been committed is 'poor' and practice is patchy.
Two of the leading authorities on sudden infant death believe if cases get to court, criminal hearings should be reformed to make proceedings fairer.
Report author Dr Christopher Bacon, from the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, said, 'It is very important to get it right, because sadly mothers do sometimes kill babies, whether intentionally or unintentionally; that is established beyond doubt.
'But if we start accusing the wrong mother, it is a terrible injustice and she may end up unjustly in prison and it does untold harm.'
Joyce Epstein, director of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, added,
More basic medical research is urgently needed into the possible causes of sudden infant death. …