Friday, March 28, 2003

One good panic deserves another

Having noticed the success with which the paranoia about 'cot death' has entered the brains of the masses, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has suggested that a similar label be applied to adult deaths. The BHF press release states:

'It has long been recognised that there are occasions when an apparently previously healthy adult dies suddenly and unexpectedly and any abnormalities found at post-mortem are minimal or non-existent. In such cases it can be very difficult to identify a precise cause of death. This leads us to question whether these deaths are rare or represent the tip of a larger iceberg.'

'Our findings suggest to us that these deaths should be classed as the adult equivalent of the sudden infant death syndrome (S.I.D.S.). If the condition is more frequent that we suspect - particularly if across the country pathologists and coroners are using different words to describe the cause of death - we need to give the condition a “name” to help us gain a greater understanding of the scale of the problem.'

Which in principle sounds reasonable. But it is one thing to create a statistical category for monitoring purposes, it is another to turn the unknown into a new syndrome. But the suggestion at least gets the BHF back in the news.

In any event, the main reason that SIDS has become so familiar is the emotional tug of possibly doing something that could harm your child, even if the risk of 'cot death' is small. I can't see that happening with SADS.

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