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The Important Need for Autopsy Standards

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the "sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history" (Willinger, et al., 1991).

Certain limitations exist in the method of collecting data on SIDS: death investigations are not conducted by
precisely the same standards across the country, making data comparison difficult, and reports of infants'
behavior and health are based largely on the observations of parents and caregivers rather than on scientific
measurement. To help improve uniformity of information, the Division of Maternal and Child Health of the
Department of Health and Human Services held a meeting in 1975 which resulted in investigative and autopsy
protocols for examining the SIDS infant. These protocols were included in an article entitled "The Examination
of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Infant: Investigative and Autopsy Protocols." This article was published in
Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 833-841, 1976. SIDS RESEARCH, PART I : AN OVERVIEW OF MAJOR TRENDS - reprinted with permission from the Information Exchange the newsletter of the National SIDS Resource Center.

Other refrences citing the imnportance of Standardized Autopsy Protocols:

http://www.cdc.gov/epo/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001294.htm
Current Trends Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as a Cause of Premature Mortality United States, 1984 and 1985, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report October 28, 1988 / 37(42);644,646,652

http://www.aap.org/policy/m958.html
Child Death Investigation Act, American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy Reference Guide, Model Bill, February 1993

http://www.aap.org/policy/958.html
Child Death Investigation Act, American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatric Policy Reference Guide, Model Legislation, February 1993

http://www.aap.org/policy/05100.html
Investigation and Review of Unexpected Infant and Child Deaths (RE9336), American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, Pediatrics, Volume 92, Number 5 November 1993, p 734-735

http://www.aap.org/policy/00206.html
Death of a Child in the Emergency Department (RE9413), American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, Pediatrics, Volume 93, Number 5, May 1994, p 861-862

http://www.aap.org/policy/00299.html
Distinguishing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome From Child Abuse Fatalities (RE9421), American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, Pediatrics Volume 94, Number 1 July 1994, p 124-126

http://aepo-xdv-www.epo.cdc.gov/wonder/prevguid/m0042657/entire.htm
Guidelines for Death Scene Investigation of Sudden, Unexplained Infant Deaths: Recommendations of the Interagency Panel on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 45(RR-10);1-6, June 21, 1996

SIDS Alliance Press Release emphasizing the need for standardized autopsy protocols, (4/7/98)

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