Intended for healthcare professionals


Investigating infant deaths

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:206
  1. M P Ward Platt, clinical director (
  1. Regional Maternity Survey Office, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AA

The protocol suggested by the Kennedy report is good, but will it work?

There is now another “Kennedy report” for paediatricians to consider.1 This time the chair was Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, the working group was set up by the royal colleges of Paediatrics and Child Health and of Pathology, and the subject was the investigation of sudden unexpected deaths in infants (SUDI). The report recommends a systematic and evidence based protocol for the history, examination, investigation, autopsy, death scene investigation, and subsequent multiprofessional meeting in relation to each death.1 It also recommends that this should be compulsory, although it doesn't say how that might be enforced. But will it have the desired effect?

The background is several recent high profile cases in the United Kingdom of mothers accused of killing their infants: the quashing of the convictions of Sally Clarke and Angela Cannings; the acquittal of Trupti Patel; and cases such as that of Maxine Robinson, who originally protested her innocence of the deaths of the two children she was …

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