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September 16, 1998

The Death of Innocents—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;280(11):965-967. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-11-jbk0916

In Reply.—Speaking directly with 12 experienced, board-certified forensic pathologists concerning their autopsy findings and diagnostic criteria in SIDS cases is not "hearsay evidence." Indeed, there could not be a more knowledgeable source of such information in the United States. I have also searched the most widely used English-language forensic pathology textbooks, and I have found no specific reference to Dr Naeye's histologic features in the discussion of SIDS.

Naeye's statement that his 6 published articles "changed the direction of SIDS research from the view that SIDS occurred in normal children to the view that the victims had chronic abnormalities that predisposed them to their demise" is intellectually presumptuous. First of all, these infants are "normal" as far as we currently know. If they were not, we most probably would not still be labeling them "SIDS." Second, to the extent that medical science may ultimately come to learn that there is some genetic defect that causes these deaths, how can Naeye take any credit for such a conjectural future discovery?

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