Study suggests up to 40% of crib deaths are murder

Jerusalem-based organization Atid estimates that 60 of the 75-80 annual deaths attributed to SIDS are authentic.

baby in cot 311 (photo credit: Illustrative photo)
baby in cot 311
(photo credit: Illustrative photo)
Up to 40 percent of babies in Israel who have died as a result of the mysterious Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, often known as crib deaths, could in fact have been murdered, suggests a new study published Wednesday by the Jerusalem-based Haruv Institute.
While the study is based on statistics taken from research carried out in other countries, Haruv’s director, Professor Hillel Schmid, and other experts at the center believe that by applying figures from the US and the UK to Israel, it’s possible that as many as 16 cases of SIDS in Israel each year are in fact murders carried out by parents or family members.
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“We are very upset with this statistic,” Schmid said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
He highlighted, however, that it is impossible to find exact figures in Israel because in 1980 an amendment to the Anatomy and Pathology Law made autopsies dependent on parental agreement.
“I do not want to blame any particular sector for this but there are certain groups in Israel that do not like autopsies to be carried out,” said Schmid. “If we continue preventing them from taking place when a baby dies then nobody will ever know the real reasons for the deaths.”
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 166,000 babies were born in Israel in 2010 and each year roughly 684 babies die for various reasons. The Jerusalem-based voluntary organization Atid, which works for the prevention of, education about and research into SIDS, estimates that 60 of the 75-80 annual deaths attributed to SIDS are authentic.
Schmid said that Haruv’s main goal now was to instigate legislation that would make postmortem’s compulsory for every suspicious death involving children. He said that he has already discussed the matter with Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev, who heads the Knesset Committee for the Rights of the Child.
“I need to read through all the information before I can formulate a clear opinion on this matter,” Orlev told the Post on Wednesday. “I did speak with Professor Schmid and these statistics are alarming but I want to call a committee meeting and hear from experts in all areas relating to this topic, including the religious authorities because we do live in a Jewish state.”