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SUDC Insights

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SUDC Insights is the official blog of the SUDC Foundation which shares and discusses issues important to the understanding and the ultimate prevention of SUDC. If you have questions or issues you would like to see addressed in SUDC Insights, please let us know at sudcinsights@sudc.org.

Scientific Advisory Board Spotlight: Dr. Thomas Keens

In this edition of SUDC Insights, we would like to introduce you to one member of our Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Thomas Keens. Dr. Keens is a pediatric pulmonologist, Professor of Pediatrics, Physiology and Neuroscience at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and serves as the Chair of the California SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Advisory Council.

Monitors and SUDC Siblings: A 2020 Update

When a child dies suddenly and unexpectedly, parents will understandably experience fear that their surviving children and subsequent children may also die. Given that the majority of SUDC children reportedly die during an apparent sleep period, sleep can be a fearful time for parents. Parents often report the fear of walking into a quiet room or relay waking their sleeping child multiple times a night to ensure that they are breathing. Even for families who have not experienced the loss of an infant or child, these are commonly expressed fears.

How to Help Someone Through Grief

Losing a child is everyone’s worst nightmare. It’s not the way things are supposed to happen; so how do you support someone you love through something you’re uncomfortable even thinking about? Should you talk about their child? Should you offer advice? While there’s no one path or right answer, there are some important things I’ve learned from working with grieving parents as well as research and reading on the topic. It’s normal to fear making mistakes when helping those who are hurting, but it’s much worse to make the mistake of not trying to help at all. Here are some tips on helping a grieving parent through the experience of loss that I’ve learned along my journey of helping.   

Insight from the 2019 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Medical Examiners

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For over 15 years, the SUDC Foundation hasn’t missed the opportunity to attend the National Association of Medical Examiner’s (NAME) meeting. In order to achieve our mission to support those who have suffered the sudden, unexpected death of a child, we first need to connect with them. Medical examiners play a critical role by referring them to us. While pediatric and other medical professionals may be in contact with these bereaved families after the death of their child, medical examiners and coroners most definitely will be. Equally important, we rely on medical examiners and coroners to complete comprehensive investigations and gather crucial data to identify the most accurate causes of death for these children.

What is Complicated Grief?

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Grief is a natural part of life. The often painful and difficult grieving process can be overcome by individuals experiencing it using personalized methods, on their own time, and with minimum complications. There are individuals that can also experience what is referred to as a comorbidity with their grief, such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Spotlight on SUDC: Nathan's Story

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Nathan's story is lovingly told by his family.

Nathan came into this world of his own choosing. We had set his induction date for February 9, 2013, (so he could share his birthday with a grandfather he would never meet). However, Nathan decided his own birthday and came into the world at 1:03 am, February 10, 2013 (just missing the date we wanted by 1 hour and 3 mins) and weighing 5lb 12oz. After his birth, we were so happy. Our family was complete. My husband and I had our little girl (who was almost 3) and our baby boy--we didn't need anything else.

Posttraumatic stress disorder: Perspectives from an SUDC mama and psychologist

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Almost exactly two years ago my life literally changed overnight when I discovered my beautiful, healthy, thriving two-year-old son, Jackson, unresponsive in his crib just days after his second birthday. Although my role in this excruciating loss has been as a mother first and psychologist second, I experienced the déjà vu of learning first-hand how to facilitate my own recovery. As a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I learned to apply what I know, in my heart and in my brain, to surviving my own personal tragedy. Most importantly, when I initially found myself experiencing “PTSD-like” symptoms, such as intrusive memories from “that morning” and strong urges to avoid painful reminders of Jackson’s life and death, I reminded myself of a powerful fact: most people who experience trauma do not go on to develop PTSD.

Understanding "Cause" and "Manner" of Death

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Among other functions, the medical examiner or coroner is responsible for investigating sudden and unexpected deaths and completing a medicolegal death investigation. Part of that investigation will include completing a death certificate which includes information about the person who died as well as the investigation’s determined “cause” and "manner” of death for that individual. 

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