Monday, 2 May 2011

SIDS: "wastebasket term for unexplained child deaths"

 ZACH PLUHACEK April 26, 2011
For two days this week, Dr. Tracey Corey clicked through slides of autopsy photos, grisly images of toddlers and infants projected on a screen for about 50 police officers and prosecutors at Lincoln's Child Advocacy Center.
Even the center's director, Lynn Ayers, whose staff interviews victims of child abuse and sexual assault every day, bristled at the images.
However gruesome, the photos are important to an investigator's "visual library," Corey, Kentucky's chief medical examiner, said during a break Tuesday.
"You see what you look for, and you look for what you know."
Building that library can be difficult without practice, so the images give investigators examples of patterns of injury.
Looking closely can be difficult, but it's necessary, Corey said.
The same goes for investigating child deaths themselves.
Corey said sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, can be a "wastebasket term" for unexplained child deaths.
More deaths are unexplained when investigators don't examine scenes properly and don't attempt to further explain deaths that aren't believed to be criminal in nature -- deaths such as those resulting from infants sleeping with their caretakers. Lincoln apparently has had three such deaths since April 17.
Lincoln police have given little information on the deaths, which are still under investigation.
On Tuesday, Corey said sleeping with an infant -- called co-sleeping -- is a bad idea, regardless of the circumstances.
"The safest place for your baby is in its own sleep environment," she said.

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