FFE Magazine

Baby brains taken without telling Parents

23may norway baby brains

The fatal phenomenon known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is one of the most mysterious causes of deaths for infants and can happen regardless of the baby’s health. Norwegian scientists wanted to finally understand what causes SIDS, but to do so, they committed a shocking operation.


Norwegian newspaper VG found out that, in a 1984 research programme on SIDS that continues today, scientists took the hearts and brains of 700 dead babies without telling their distraught parents. The scientists carried out the surgeries during the autopsy of the babies. The organs were replaced with silicone before being returned to the parents.


Programme Head Professor Torleiv Ole Rognum explained ‘When we started the project we autopsied up to three toddlers a day who had died of SIDS.


‘If you heard the cries of parents who have lost their children, then you would understand.’


VG found out that the parents of the babies were not informed of the operation. The scientists intentionally did not ask for consent because doing so would have added further distress on the parents. Rognum added that he had no regrets on the way they carried out the operation.


So far, the programme has led to positive results. Rognum said ‘The work of the paediatrician Trond Markestad and the findings from our research have brought an explanation about what causes SIDS.’


Rognum also assured that the programme is being handled more tightly now. ‘In 1984, it was much easier to take samples for research from forensic autopsies. It’s been tightened, and that’s fine.’


Under the Norwegian law only hospital autopsies require consent from the relatives, not forensic autopsies.



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