Vaccination & SIDS

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There has been a lot of controversy over the years as to whether Sudden Infant Death Syndrome can be a result of an adverse reaction to vaccination.  Many parents remain convinced that their child’s death so close in proximity to when the child received his or her vaccinations must be more than just a coincidence.  Researchers and medical doctors are starting to understand how vaccination may be playing a role in SIDS.  Most babies who die and are diagnosed with SIDS are developing normally up until their death.  There are often times no pre-existing medical issues that would otherwise create a concern for the babies health.  Several years ago, a neuropathologist, Dr. Hannah Kinney, gave the hypothesis that several variables had to exist for a SIDS death to occur.  She coined the "Triple Risk Model" for SIDS.


The first element of the model is the critical development period, which is the first six months of life where the baby is growing and developing very rapidly. This rapid growth can make a baby’s system become unstable.  A majority of SIDS deaths occur in children between two and six months of age.  The second element is a vulnerable infant.  The infant has some underlying abnormality in an area of their brainstem that controls respiration, heart rate, temperature, arousal from sleep and other major bodily functions during early life.  A "normal” child without this brainstem abnormality would arouse from sleep when their ability to breath is challenged.  However, a child who has the brainstem abnormality is vulnerable if their ability to breath is challenged.  The third element involves an outside or environmental challenge which a normal baby can easily overcome and survive, but that an already vulnerable baby night not. There are multiple risks that can serve as this outside or "external” challenge, such as tobacco exposure, co-sleeping, soft bedding, bed sharing, or an infection. By themselves, these challenges do not cause death for healthy infants, but they could trigger a sudden, unexpected death in a vulnerable infant at a vulnerable age.  In other words, if you have a baby at a young age, who has this unknown brain abnormality, SIDS can occur under the right circumstances when the outside challenge is introduced.


Infection is accepted in the medical community as a causative risk factor for SIDS in these "at risk” children.  The way an infection can lead to a SIDS death is due to the way the immune system ramps up and responds to the infection.  Cytokines are small secreted proteins released by cells have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between other cells.  They are the first responders when the immune system is provoked by an infection.  The same cytokines released when the immune system is responding to an infection are released in exactly the same way following vaccination. These cytokines can permeate the blood brain barrier (the barrier that keeps toxins and other substances in our blood from getting into our central nervous system), and lead to an inflammatory response the serves as the external risk factor for SIDS.


Can vaccination play a role in SIDS?  Under the right circumstances, it is certainly possible.  If you feel as though your child’s death may have been a result of vaccination, you should give us a call today and discuss the specific facts of your situation with a vaccine injury lawyer.