Two Reasons Why SIDS Can be Undiagnosed Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: Reason 1

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) became popularized in the 1980s. It is a term used as a cause of death when an infant dies suddenly of unknown causes.

Contrary to popular belief, SIDS has been debunked as an actual disease entity. There are two main reasons for this. I explain the first one in this post, and the next one in my next post on the same topic.

Reason 1: Studies of Infants who Died of SIDS find Undiagnosed MSbP

A Convenient Diagnosis

In 1993, J. L. Emery wrote in the American Journal of Diseases in Children,

There is now evidence, from a variety of approaches, that indicate that between one tenth and one fifth of children currently diagnosed as cases of sudden infant death syndrome are not natural deaths. There is also equally strong evidence, where the possibility of filicide has been explored, that the majority of children diagnosed as cases of sudden infant death syndrome do die of natural causes.

Studies Confirm This

Several studies have been done where deaths originally classified as a result of SIDS are reviewed carefully. In these studies, deaths are often reclassified as MSbP-caused deaths.

  • A 1999 study by Roy Meadow, the inventor of the name Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, 42 children initially classified as dying from SIDS were reviewed, and 29 were reclassified. In 24 families, more than one child died. This led them to ultimately count 81 dead children from 50 families, and in 43 families, the mother was deemed the perpetrator. Over a third of the dead children had been smothered, a common feature in MSbP deaths.
  • In a German study, of 339 deaths originally classified as SIDS, 17 were found to be infanticide with MSbP features such as sepsis (systemic infection), poisoning with medications, and smothering.
  • A 2007 article estimated that “according to the literature, 5 to 11 percent of deaths recorded as SIDS may be disguised homicides”.

Soldiers holding baby.

Sadness All Around

Some infants do die of unknowns causes, and these are very heartbreaking cases. However, diagnostic label SIDS has been co-opted by MSbP perpetrators to prevent their identification when they kill their children.

I remember my mother describing SIDS to me when I was age 5, around the time my little brother was born. She was very interested in SIDS, and we read a lot of information about it together. Although my brother was sick most of his childhood with various illnesses (his name was Nicky but I called him Sicky), he’s not physically ill anymore. I guess he didn’t die of SIDS.

In my next post, I explain the second reason why SIDS can be undiagnosed MSbP.

Do you know of a SIDS case that you think might have been Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy? Comment on this post and let’s hear your story!

Photograph by the US Navy.



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