There’s no greater tragedy than the loss of a child or infant, especially if you’re a parent. So it’s no wonder that plenty of new parents out there have severe anxiety about bringing their babies home from the hospital, given everything we know and continue to learn about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The term has been around for generations, although the number of SIDS-related deaths have declined worldwide over the years. Experts have cited everything from being able to better-diagnose other causes of death to better sleep practices, although the official recommendations are always changing. Just last year the American Academy of Paediatrics declared that babies should sleep in a bassinet or crib in their parents’ room from six months to a year, for example.
Now news that the Canadian Forum of Chief Coroners and Chief Medical Examiners decided to abolish the term SIDS altogether is making the rounds thanks to a recent Globe and Mail article, even though the decision itself was reached back in 2012. The thought is that if doctors are unable to give a reason as to why a baby has died, the official cause of death should be categorized as “undetermined.” Additionally, the belief is that by being able to better classify causes of death, doctors are hoping to increase actual prevention.
For parents who have lost a baby to unknown causes that has to be hard to hear though. On their side of the debate having a term like SIDS at least brings these parents some closure, and the much-needed reassurance that there was nothing they could have done to prevent the death. The feelings of guilt and grief alone in cases like these have got to be insurmountable. Offering a term — even a wide-reaching one like SIDS — is better than nothing, they argue.
Obviously the debate has become a bit of a hot one, with bereaved parents and coroners weighing in (such as in the video above), and wondering if the term even exists. For now it looks like each province will follow its own set of rules, which may just add to the confusion.
Regardless of where the terminology lands, it seems like the one thing we can all agree on is that losing a child in any capacity is simply tragic.