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Definition of the sudden infant death syndrome

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 28 May 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1439
  1. C Rambaud,
  2. C Guilleminault,
  3. P Campbell
  1. Anatomic-Pathologique, Hospital Necker-Enfants Malades, 75743
  2. Paris Cedex 15, France Sleep Disorder Clinic, Palo Alto, CA 94304
  3. USA Victoria Institute of Forensic Pathology, South Melbourne, Victoria 3205, Australia.

    EDITOR, - The definition of the sudden infant death syndrome was called into question at the second international conference on the syndrome, in February 1992. As no consensus could be reached it was decided to keep the 1969 Beckwith definition: “the death of an infant or young child, which is unexpected by history and in whom a thorough necropsy examination fails to reveal an adequate cause of death.”

    The issue is what constitutes an “adequate cause of death.” To base the definition of the sudden infant death syndrome on a diagnosis of exclusion is questionable. There is no current consensus on the minimum postmortem investigations that are needed to ensure …

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