A recent report in the Medical Journal has cast aspersions on the findings of a cot death study that had brought infamy to the pediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow
A paper published in 2005 in the medical journal, The Lancet, has indicated that most of the second infant deaths occurring in families who had lost the first baby also due to SIDS, could be due to natural causes. This was substantiated by the research led by Prof Robert.
But a report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has now doubted these inferences. Sir Roy, who provided evidence during many court cases, has always sworn by the 'Meadow's Law' - that 'one sudden infant death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder, unless proven otherwise'.
Contrary to this, studies by Prof Robert Carpenter of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggested that nearly 80-90 per cent of second deaths were due to natural causes. The findings were the result of a study conduced on more than 6,000 babies, whose parents availed the support provided by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death's Care of the Next Infant (CONI) scheme.
The paper was made available during a time when many of the sudden infant deaths were linked to murder convictions, which were being evaluated in detail. Prof Meadow's evidence in these famous cases had raised a storm which also led the General Medical Council to remove his name from the medical register. This was revoked, after his appeal to the high court challenging such a decision, was accepted.
The BMJ report says "By excluding from their analysis the possibility of any grey area classification, the authors created the illogical corollary that all the deaths in the series that were not unnatural must be natural."