To the Editor.
The commentary by our colleague Abraham Bergman1 in the January 1997 issue of Pediatrics was justifiably kind to Steinschneider2 concerning his alleged failure to recognize infanticide in 1972. Emery's3 warning of infanticide when more than one sudden infant death occurred in a family was not published until 1986.
There were, however, accusations of neglect and infanticide as explanations of sudden infant death going back many centuries.4 Some of these accusations stirred compassionate pathologists to postulate a disease that did not exist,status thymicolymphaticus, to defend accused mothers and nursemaids.5 It seems likely that this desire to protect parents from harsh accusations may have influenced Steinschneider in a period when coroners investigating potential infanticide were criticized by many in the SIDS movement, including Bergman.6
Bergman's commentary then proceeds to pronounce as “false” 1) apnea as a cause of SIDS, 2) anatomic evidence...