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SIDS 'Is Truly a Parent's Worst Nightmare'

July 28, 1996

I lost my beloved 3-month-old son to sudden infant death syndrome 11 years ago. Unless you've been there, no one can begin to imagine the rawness of the pain or the immensity of the tragedy. You've cuddled, kissed, fed, burped and changed this miracle you call your child. One day you put your baby down for a nap or for the evening and later, sometimes within moments, you find him lifeless and cold. It is truly a parent's worst nightmare, and we have to live with it for the rest of our lives.

In memory of the pure joy my son gave me during his life, I've spent the last 10 years volunteering as a peer counselor for other SIDS parents. I have heard just about every theory and horror story about this mysterious killer of infants. I can assure you that the story by Kathleen Doheny entitled "When It's Death by Unnatural Causes" (July 16) will open many, many wounds and cause undeserved anguish for many SIDS parents.

We in the SIDS community have been aware of and sickened by the Waneta Hoyt story for a very long time. It surfaces every few years and always brings fresh heartache to thousands of parents who have done the best they can to survive the loss of their child. I keep thinking this idea of SIDS as murder will go away and stay away, but someone always seems to find a way to recycle the story without any regard for all the parents who did everything right and still had their babies die for no apparent reason.

In this day of sensational sound bites, SIDS parents are bombarded constantly with partial facts and half truths such as "near-miss SIDS" (SIDS babies are not revivable, regardless of how quickly they receive CPR) or that putting your baby on its back will prevent SIDS (this may lower the risk, but babies still die of SIDS while on their backs), and now Dr. Jerold Lucey saying, "One SIDS death and you should think about murder."

To imply that murder should be the first thought of any "first responder" to a scene where an apparently healthy infant has died is archaic, uneducated and completely inappropriate. SIDS is still the leading cause of death for children under the age of 1 year and no one yet has discovered what causes it.

NANCY ECKERT

Mission Viejo

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