Medicine: Death in the Crib

Every time a baby is found dead in his crib, apparently smothered by bedclothing or a soft pillow, the mother is tortured by the feeling that she should have been more careful. Neighbors and kin often brand her as negligent. Almost all such blame and remorse are pointless, says Dr. Keith Bowden in the current Australian Medical Journal: cases of "baby smothering" are usually due to unsuspected disease.

Many infant deaths are reported as due to "accidental suffocation" because few autopsies are made, and most of these are not thorough enough. Dr. Bowden,...

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