such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
July 15, 2009 — 19th century infant deaths
attributed to smothering and overlaying, by either a co-sleeper or
bedding, were in all likelihood crib deaths, or Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome (SIDS). These deaths would have been mislabeled by lawmakers
as neglect and even infanticide, because SIDS had not yet been
identified, according to Dr. Ariane Kemkes, an independent researcher
from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.
SIDS is the third most prominent cause of death among infants under
a year old, accounting for 30-55 percent of infant deaths during their
first year. Although the specific causes of SIDS remain largely
unknown, the infant’s age, gender, race, neonatal history and sleep
environment are recognized risk factors.
Historically, the unanticipated death of an apparently healthy baby
during night-time sleep would have been rationalized as accidental
smothering or overlaying. Lawmakers attributed smothering deaths to
negligent caretakers and characterized infant-adult bedsharing
practices as proof of parental incompetence.
Dr. Kemkes investigated whether 19th century infant deaths
attributed to smothering or overlaying shared the same characteristics
as known SIDS cases. She analyzed data from the U.S. Federal Mortality
Schedule from the years 1850-1880. She found that, just like SIDS,
smothering and overlaying deaths occurred primarily during the second
to fourth month of the baby’s life, were more likely in the late winter
months and amongst boys, and there were more infant deaths among black
The author concludes: “The study strongly supports the hypothesis
that these infant deaths represent empirical evidence of 19th century
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