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Update on the Texas Governor's Conference on Child Abuse meeting of 1/26/98

Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998
From: Patti Jackson <csinc@swbell.net>
Subject: Re: SIDS and Texas child abuse meeting

Tonight Harry West, MD, Deputy Medical Examiner of El Paso and a pediatric pathologist, presented information on SIDS to the Governor's Conference on Child Abuse. The information was targeted to medical responders and others who are concerned with infant death. Approximately 25 people were in attendance, including Judy Henslee of the Southwest SIDS Institute, Marian Sokol (SIDS Alliance board member, and founding member of the SIDS Support for San Antonio), Lisa Newsom (director of North Texas SIDS Alliance), Amil Ortiz, MD (neonatalogist from San Antonio with a special interest in SIDS), Darla Ures (a SIDS parent from San Antonio), and Patti Jackson (Area Coordinator for SIDS Support for San Antonio).

In the 2.5 hour session, Dr. West presented information on the definition of SIDS, how it had changed through the years, typical SIDS autopsy findings, and common death certificate errors. He discussed numerous examples of diagnoses through the years that may have actually been SIDS, or SIDS cases that may have had some other cause of death. Dr. West detailed how use of the strict use of the SIDS definition can clarify several cases.

He also shared some interesting information based on his studies on SIDS in Native American populations. One fact that he finds intriguing is that almost all Indian babies sleep on their backs, but they have a very high rate of SIDS, probably due to other strong risk factors.

The overall theme of his presentation is a call for systematic death reviews and a more strict use of the SIDS definition. He believes that only by this approach will we be able to understand the true rate of SIDS.

My personal commentary:
All of those representing SIDS interests at the meeting believed that this was a very good presentation.

This meeting was not a panel, as Judy Henslee was initially led to believe. It was a presentation with slides and about 10 minutes of discussion at the end.

Dr. West believes in SIDS as a diagnosis. He also believes that it is not the cause of all infant deaths, and that it is important to find the true cause of death.

No pending legislation, or potential legislation, was discussed.

Patti Jackson
Area Coordinator
SIDS Support for San Antonio
csinc@swbell.net

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