RESEARCHING THE SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS)
The Role of Ideology in Biomedical Science
James J. McKenna
University of Notre Dame
This monograph will review what is known about the SIDS puzzle and some
of the factors that make it so difficult to solve. In addition to
describing the inherent methodological problems that arise when no
consistent clinical markers, either before or after the infant's death,
can be identified, the author uses his experiences in this research area
to comment on the sociocultural factors that play a significant role in
shaping and sometimes constraining the SIDS research paradigm.
The author attempts to demonstrate 1) physiologically significant
changes in the sleep experiences of solitary and social sleeping infants
and 2) that the changes found (presuming they are real) are peninent to
understanding suspected infantile deficits thought to be involved in
some SIDS instances.
Some of the more specific questions posed include: What kinds of
physiological changes in arousals and breathing and hean rates do
parents and infants have as a result of contact with each other
throughout the night? Perhaps the kind of sensory communication such as
breathing sounds, smells, sudden movements, breathing movements of the
chest, and/or touch, reduces the number of breathing pauses, or
increases arousals in infants, or simply prevents infants from sleeping
in deep stages or from having apneas?
The mathematics is very elementary, consisting mostly of bar charts.
There are no math problems provided by the author. The language is
sophisticated and may be a barrier to younger students. The text provides
enough background information for statistics students to engage in experimental
The Author also has a website Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory .
which contains material relevant to this monograph.