SIDS caused by chemical imbalance? Remembering Jacqueline.

Without a doubt, “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” (SIDS), or what used to be called crib death, is a scourge on mankind.

Today is February 3rd, 2010. My granddaughter Jacqueline would have been 23 today. Unfortunately, she died when she was only twelve weeks old — on April 26th, 1987.

She was a chubby, pink cheeked healthy baby. So, like all babies who have no obvious reason for their death, the real cause of her death was unknown — even after a thorough autopsy. And, all the various “causes” since then have been wrong.

For example:

  • Did the mother, my daughter, smoke? No.
  • Was the baby on her stomach? No.
  • Did the baby have stuffed animals or blankets in her bed, besides the small little one that kept her warm? No.

However, was she slightly congested? Yes, at midnight on the day she would die, she was congested enough to take to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. The doctor on call could find nothing wrong so her parents took her home. 

And yet, when her mother went to check on her at 6am, she wasn’t moving and had no pulse. My daughter screamed. As they rushed Jacqueline back to the hospital, my daughter administered her mouth to mouth trying to make sure she had oxygen in her lungs — all the way back to the hospital.

As she entered the hospital, it was the same doctor on call and the same nurses. When it became obvious that the medical team could not save her or bring her back, there was not a dry eye in that emergency department.

In the years since I have read where other SIDS babies had some congestion. So, today’s article that there may be a chemical imbalance (h/t NNW) in the brain makes sense — in this case serotonin which is related to the sleep cycle. Although there are likely a number of causes of SIDS as suggested in this CBC Newsworld video (which takes a few seconds to load).  

However, millions of babies have lived with smokers. Millions of babies have slept on their stomachs. Yet, only a very small percentage of those millions of babies stop breathing and die.

So the why is very important for at least two reasons:

  1. So that babies at risk can be saved; and
  2. So that parents are not blamed or carry the guilt for the rest of their lives — thinking about what they could have done differently.

As it is now,  no one really knows why so many babies stop breathing. Jacqueline may have only been three months old but she was a little person and we still miss her and what she could have become.