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23 comments

Is it a genetic defect? The article didn't say genetic, just that they'd found the mechanism in the brain. I thought that fetal alcohol was a risk factor in SIDS. It's possible exposure to something (alcohol, something else, all sorts of things) could cause this defect.

My little sister died this way, and my mother was still sad about it when she died last year. She had my unbaptized sister's name added to her gravestone (I haven't seen it yet, but that's what I was told), since sis didn't get her own – sis is buried at the back in one of the unmarked sections with other babies and suicides.

I extrapolated genetic due to the fact that the article stated that the babies were predisposed to have less active levels of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) which are encoded by the encoded by the BCHE gene, but there is a high chance I am misinterpreting. (I'm a programmer, not a biotech wizard!)

One issue with SIDS is that, historically, it is often treated as a catch all for the death of children between 1 to 6 months old, not to mention the fact that the reasons for SIDS has been flip flopped around so much. 🤷‍♀️ The problem is that too many deaths have been thrown into the same "cause of death" bucket, but these deaths are not always actually caused/instigated by, the same thing.

In my (uneducated and overall useless) opinion, a child who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and passes in their sleep is not a SIDS death, but child that has died from complications related to fetal alcohol syndrome. Now, FAS might have an effect on the child's active levels of BChE, but should that death be considered a SIDs death, or a death due to complications of FAS?

Sorry my brain is rambling at this point.

I am sorry about your sis and mother, I never understood not letting unbaptized babies be buried in family plots, It just seems hurtful. But I am also not of the faith.

It sounds like you know more about it than I do. I guess we'll see how the different factors play out going forward.

Questions of how one records a death are tricky. My father died of a gunshot wound (self inflicted), but he was also bipolar. From one perspective, the gunshot wound is what killed him, but from another, it's the bipolar that was the crucial contributing factor. I'd say the same kind of reasoning applies with your question about FAS and SIDS.

[–] ProxyMusic 0 points Edited

I am sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is hard enough, but losing a parent so suicide adds extra elements of distress, which can cast a very long shadow. I hope you are holding up OK.

As for how deaths are recorded, there's often a difference between what gets recorded in official government records and in family biographies and letters. But as far as the official records go, in most jurisdictions, a distinction is usually made between the manner of death (natural, accident, suicide, homicide or undetermined) and the causes of death (such as disease/naturally occurring health event, drug overdose, gunshot wound, drowning, vehicular collision, plane crash).

I dunno what the custom in other countries is, but in the USA, death certificates, and the data bases DCs are entered into, also require that both the immediate cause of death and the underlying causes of death be listed.

In addition, all other medical conditions that likely contributed to a person's death but did not necessarily cause it are supposed to be listed too.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/blue_form.pdf

However, not everyone fills out DCs properly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/well/death-certificate-cause.html

And as I am sure you are aware, in cases of any deaths which could be the result of foul play, suicide or accident, the police are required to investigate and the COD has to be determined by a coroner or medical examiner. In such deaths, a distinction is usually made between the manner of death (natural, accident, suicide, homicide or undetermined and the causes of death (such as drug overdose, gunshot wound, drowning, vehicular collision, plane crash).

My observation is that a lot of times the actual cause/causes of death gets misreported in press death notices and obituaries, and in conversations amongst friends and family, because designated medical personnel and especially funeral home staff tend to "handle the details" around death such as writing obits, placing death notices and altering the press - and the longstanding custom of people in these lines of work has been to use euphemisms and couched terminology.

Also, within families, it's often the case that only one or a couple of family members deals with the nitty-gritty aspects like the DC and acts as the official family spokesperson - and that person or handful of persons set the tone, choose the terminology and establish the "family story." Historically, many families have used euphemisms to disguise the fact that someone died of suicide. When I was growing up in the USA in the 1960s, men who died of suicide were often said to have been killed in a hunting accident, and women were said to have died in childbirth or of some vague "lady problem" or "women's disease" that was considered impolite to name.

Close family members who have questions about how a relative's death was recorded can check by applying for a copy of the DC. Most jurisdictions give children of decedents a right to get a copy of their parents' DCs. Though usually someone in the family already has a copy, since a DC is often required for various administrative reasons in the months/first year or two following a death.

Again, I am sorry for your loss. Hope you are doing OK.