The "Discovery" of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Lessons in the Practice of Political Medicine

By Abraham B. Bergman | Go to book overview

APPENDIX III

Reprinted from Pediatric Research, Vol. 6 No. 4, April, 1972


THE SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME

Data from carefully conducted epidemiologic studies suggest that the sudden infant death syndrome, also known as "crib death," is the major cause of infant death after the first month of life. Crib death is the unexpected demise of an infant not known to have had a serious disease, whose death remains unexplained after complete autopsy. In the majority of cases, the baby does not have a cold or other infection and takes his feedings without difficulty. The infant is then placed in his crib for a nap or for the night; several hours later, or in the morning, the baby is found dead. The sudden infant death syndrome occurs more frequently in families of lower socio-economic status, a factor which may explain its higher incidence in non-white infants. It occurs in infants with a history of prematurity, particularly those born between the 34th and 35th weeks of gestation. Male infants appear to be more at risk than females. Victims are mostly between the ages of one and six months; the frequency is highest around the third month of life. The largest number of deaths occur between the months of November and March. These numerous epidemiologic associations with the sudden infant death syndrome may be independent or merely part of a whole set of circumstances commonly associated with low socio-economic class. The etiology of the sudden infant death syndrome is probably rooted in a factor or set of factors found in all socio-economic classes but most prevalent among the poor.

Numerous pathologic mechanisms involving several body systems have been implicated in the etiology of the sudden infant death syndrome. In the past a steady succession of single-factor explanations were offered. More recently several multifactorial etiologic theories have been advanced. For example, one current theory implicates a combination of factors involving infection, instability of the nervous system, and sleep. Realistically, however, it must be admitted that although etiologic theories abound, very few specific hypotheses have been thoroughly eliminated.

On August 16, 1971, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development held a planning workshop to define new directions in research into the causes of the syndrome utilizing the data presented at the Second International Conference on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in February 1969 as well as more recent research findings. As a result of this workshop, three broad areas have been identified in which the development of new knowledge would most likely contribute to the understanding and eventual control of the sudden infant death syndrome. The Institute wishes to support research through grants for studies in these areas:

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The "Discovery" of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Lessons in the Practice of Political Medicine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Appendixes x
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 1
  • 2 - What is Sids? 8
  • 3 - Disturbing the Peace 18
  • 4 - The Battle Plan 29
  • 5 - The Power of Warren Magnuson 41
  • 6 - Sensitizing Professionals 50
  • 7 - The Mondale Hearings 57
  • 8 - Campaigning on the Local Level 68
  • 9 - Our Nader Report"" 81
  • 10 - The Satisficers 93
  • 11 - House Hearings 101
  • 12 - Senate Hearings: Second Round 107
  • 13 117
  • 14 - Implementation: Pushing on a Rope 124
  • 15 - Keeping the Foundation Afloat 136
  • 16 - Collaborating with Nimh 146
  • 17 - A Dual System for Helping Families 152
  • 18 - The Mobilization Contract 163
  • 19 - Calling the Cops 172
  • Epilogue 184
  • Glossary of Names 197
  • Appendix I 203
  • Appendix II 206
  • Appendix III 209
  • Appendix VI 211
  • Appendix V 214
  • Appendix VI 216
  • Appendix VII 218
  • Appendix VIII 221
  • Index 233
  • About the Author 239
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