Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Investigating infant deaths

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:206

Rapid Response:

Re: The Richardson Hypothesis

One must not forget that there is a huge difference between an idea
(hypothesis) and established (proven) fact. That is valid for a number of
ideas expressed in the last 30 or so years. The only factor that stands
out as the answer to why so many babies die, in their sleep, and seemingly
without sufficient pathology to account for their death, in my well-
considered and researched personal opinion, is vaccination. The other
explanations may only explain a handful, if any, of such deaths.

Babies sleep and die on many types of bedding.

In Czechoslovakia where I was born and lived until many years after I
became a mother, most babies who died of cot death were found on their
backs. We did not have the fashion of putting babies on their tummies.
However, we did have the fashion of vaccinating them.

When Japan moved the vaccination age to 2 years in 1975, after a
spate of 39 deaths which were linked to vaccination (in Japan they have no
qualms to use the word “cause” when talking about reactions and deaths
after vaccination), the overall infant mortality improved vastly: Japan
zoomed from 17th to the first place in the world. I could not find any
published evidence that Japanese parents changed the bedding or position
of their babies. Moreover, but not surprisingly for me, the incidence of
whooping cough fell which included the age group below the age 2 which was
not targeted for vaccination. Both pieces of information were unwittingly
published by Cherry et al.(1988: Pediatrics Suppl. 1).

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 February 2005
Dr Viera Scheibner
Principle Research Scientist (Retired)
Blackheath, NSW 2785 Australia