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Observed and Recorded SIDS Deaths?


Are you saying there were presentations about research where actual SIDS deaths were observed and recorded taking place?! That would be newsworthy in itself I think.

I talked to Dr. Tom Keens at the California SIDS conference last October -- he addressed the group about the CHIME study, which was winding down, and I asked whether from their huge sample any SIDS deaths had occurred, and he told me yes, but that none of the babies who had died had been on monitor at the time of death. I have never heard of an occurrence of a SIDS death actually being captured on film, monitor tape or otherwise, where the SIDS diagnosis wasn't later disputed.

To answer your question, yes, I think so. I am not certain because the excellent plenary presentation last week in Rouen by Dr. Christian Guilleminault of the Stanford Sleep Research Center had no written materials or handouts available. What follows is based on my recollection and notes scratched in the dark, so I would appreciate it if the other SIDS Net attendees in Rouen who heard Dr. G. can correct me where I got it wrong:

Dr. G showed a complete set of recordings (heart rate, respiratory movements, oxygenation, etc., etc.) of an infant who, by chance, was being studied as a healthy non-ALTE control as part of a study focussed on those children presenting with ALTE (acute life threatening episode). This child had apparently-normal respiratory movements while the oxygen content of the blood kept going down and down until death occurred. The explanation was that the breathing movements, although regular, were too shallow to bring sufficient oxygen past the anatomically dead volumes of the nose and throat and into the lungs where it could get into the blood (like smoking without inhaling).

Dr. G. told us that the parents of the child asked him specifically to show the slide of these recordings to the meeting as a warning to others that apnea monitors may not be effective in all cases. My uncertainty as to whether this was a SIDS case is because I do not recall whether Dr. G stated that the verdict was SIDS or whether an autopsy found some anatomical explanation -- but in any case, if the infant was not monitored and the autopsy were to be performed by a pathologist without pediatric specialty and the hints provided by the tracings of what to look for, I think that there is a good chance that the verdict would be SIDS.

David Mage

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