Chase Cringely died of SIDS 10 years ago this week.
So sorry to hear of your loss. Perhaps someone will discover the reason for SIDS and then there might be a cure.
This is particularly poignant for me since my wife and I had our first child four weeks ago. Gotta say he looks pretty much like that picture of Chase when he’s in his little car seat. I can’t imagine what Bob went through. Ghastly.
In recent months my wife and I have been saturated with advice, read lots of literature and listened up when childcare is featured on TV and radio programmes. One thing seems not to be in dispute: the advice of Benjamin Spock (the 20th Century’s pre-eminent paediatric megaguru) that children should be put down to sleep on their fronts has caused 20,000 avoidable infant deaths to date IN THE UK ALONE. Since that advice has been discredited, infant deaths have fallen dramatically.
Any neo-natal and paediatric professional with whom we’ve had contact has been at pains to emphasise the importance of sleeping posture, room temperature and bedding deployment as key to limiting the chance of a SIDS event.
There’s still a long way to go with SIDS but it’s clear there’s a lot you can do to limit the risks.
That was always our dilemma. Each child we had, they recommended a different posture. The ironic thing is that they ll had different ways they would sleep, and if we put them in the wrong position they would not sleep. We had two tummy peepers, one side, and one back. Thank God we never had a problem. We had a miscarriage at week 15 of one of our pregnancies, so I cn only imagine how this family must have felt.
my condolences Rob, you lost a child, im sure the pain never truly leaves.
Deepest condolences. I can’t even imagine how you must have felt and continue to feel.
I concur with Charles, “…im sure the pain never truly leaves.”
Tears visit me now as did then.
Astonishingly coincident are the prior column topics,
then “Fixing IBM: Big Blue has big problems”, and
now “How to fix IBM in a week” series finale.
I remember reading the article you posted right after it happend, how that moved me when reading your story. And I still feel sorry for you and others who suffer such a tragedy.
This just crushes me.
Cute smile 🙂
Bob, my condolences on this anniversary.
In the time that’s passed, we now have smart phones running smart apps, and there are some smart-phone-connected medical monitoring devices available now, too. Perhaps we’re reaching the point where we could fulfill your goal on the data collection, at least.
Sounds like a good idea for a Kickstarter, GiveForward, or Petridish…
I’d buy in on that one.
I didn’t know. You have my deepest sympathies. Thank you for reminding us there is no cure yet. I like the monitor idea and wonder if any progress has been made there.
That reminds me.
In the interest of helping children, I note we are entering the season when I dread reading about children (and animals) forgotten in cars on hot summer days. I have long had my own monitor idea — it would be in cars and sound the horn if 1) the engine is off, 2) occupants are detected, and 3) the temperature exceeds a threshold. Or something like that. As with yours I thought my monitor could be added to cars for about $10.
I know you’re a busy guy, Bob, but did you get round to fulfilling your plan to develop a monitor and instigate further research into SIDS? It strikes me, too, that it surely couldn’t be that hard to develop such a device and more data is surely the first step on the road to preventing further deaths,
I didn’t know you’d lost a son. I know there are still new fad causes every little bit. This time they told us not to swaddle. :/
How could I help?
Nor, does it seem, is there a cure for bad spelling… “past” should be “passed” 🙂
I too remember your post ten years ago, and shared my condolences as I do again today. I dont have kids of my own, and can’t imagine what it must be like to lose one’s child. Are you still campaigning for more research in this area?
I did not realize that Chase died while sitting in your lap as you were writing emails. Your article made me realize that SID is much more sudden that I suspected.
What became of your idea in the ten-year-old article? What other ideas, or incremental knowledge, have you learned in the past decade?
It takes a warrior’s heart to bear the burden of a lost child. I imagine, too, that it shapes you and catalyzes a powerful inner growth process for you and your family. I wonder if you would consider writing an article about how such a loss has transformed your life. The strengths you have gained, the difficult burdens you have carried, the lessons you have learned, the contributions you have returned to the world due directly to this experience. It could be the most important article you’ve written. The rich and mighty tech world be damned, *real* life is the one we each live every day.
All the best to you, Bob. May Chase’s brilliant spirit be with you always.
A baby monitor running MSET based software to give advance notice of when a child may enter a life threatening condition.
Deepest sympathies from both me and my wife. I remember reading your original article about Chase with tears in my eyes.
And I just want you to know, as painful as writing that column may have been, it did good in the world. Our 5-year old daughter suffers from sleep apnea, which is a huge risk-factor for SIDS, When she was a baby, your column (among other factors) encouraged us to invest in a then-new technology, the BabySense respiration movement monitor, made by the Israeli company HiSense, http://www.babysense.net. It went off a few times and we ran to her, and she had indeed stopped breathing on a few occasions. Whether this would have progressed into SIDS we’ll never know, but at least we were armed against it to some degree.
I’m sure some of your other readers will have similar stories.
Again, all our best and all our sympathies.
This problem is a common theme for college level biomedical engineering projects. The Engineering World Health organization is one group that is carrying the flag on this.
What if there is no such Syndrome? What if this is just something that happens?
I’m sure you’re trying to sympathize with Bob and make him feel better, but I don’t see how magic thinking will do that. Cancer exists. Diabetes exists. SIDS exists, even if we don’t fully understand exactly how it works. In a world that follows the known laws of physics, nothing “just happens.”
Unfortunately, it’s really not that simple, and the question is far more insightful than your response. It is not a disease, per se, like cancer or diabetes. There is no known vector, and apparently no single cause. Public awareness and discussion has been the most effective remedies so far, and people should be encouraged to ask questions. It’s surely not an easy thing for a parent like Bob to relive such a tragedy like this, but in so doing, he may help prevent other deaths.
Phil, you’re right that SIDS isn’t well understood, and that it doesn’t have a known vector. But the very document you linked to lists a large number of facts and risk factors that we DO know, many of which describe what happened to Chase. They very fact that we’ve been able to significantly reduce SIDS deaths since 1992 proves that something is going on that can be addressed in a concerted fashion.
What I was trying to ask (yes, in a slightly roundabout way to avoid bluntness about a very delicate subject) is how can it possibly help someone or reduce his pain to say that his child didn’t die because of a known medical cause, but just because the universe is random and perverse? I’m sire that’s not what MikeN meant to say, but that was the inescapable endpoint of his logic.
Bob, once again I am so sorry for your loss. We lost our son 6 years ago in February.
My wife and I are involved with The Compassionate Friends. http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx It is a support group for parents who have lost a child at any age for any reason. I recommend it as a safe place to talk about your son with people who understand that the loss of a child never heals.
Please if you need help from a tech guy for any of your SIDs projects, let me know. I would be happy to help.
My condolences, cannot imagine the heartache.
Imus conducts an annual radiothon for SIDS research (along with other causes) at Hackensack University Medical Center (NJ). They might have some current research.
I am sorry for such a tremendous loss.
You were doing some monitor research in this area. Could that same monitor be used for sleep apnea?
Yes, I remember that “I, Cringely” column. I’ve been reading your work for a couple of decades now. That was easily the hardest one to read — because it hit so close to home.
One of my granddaughters, a beautiful three-month old, died of SIDS three years before Chase. I still remember my daughter’s tearful phone call. With her mother out of country I made a poor substitute for parental comfort. I rushed to her apartment, where the coroner and a police officer were handling the situation. Before removing it to the morgue, they brought out the little body and gave it to my daughter for a last opportunity to hold her. When she was done I carried the body back to the officials. It was such a change from the previous week when I had last held a sweet little lady I would not have the chance to get to know. She’d be 13 years old now.
I too remember reading the original post with great sadness. Since then, I’ve had two kids, so I’ve thought of it many times. We were fortunate that we didn’t have any such issues, but I can empathize even more now, and I’m still very, very sorry for your loss.
Bob, I am so sorry for your loss. I remember when you announced the loss of Chase. I can’t imagine your families grief. He is such a beaurtiful baby.
Bob, I continue to grieve with you. I remember reading that article 10 years ago. I lost my youngest son to SIDS 4 years prior. There is nothing in the world that can fill that hole or fix your heart. You just cope.
To this day I am still working in my son Joshua’s memory to do something that helps inspire kids to choose medical, science and engineering specialties so that maybe one of them can help prevent more families from suffering.
Alas it is a long and lonely road.
Time flies by but the loss still feels almost like yesterday. My son and his wife lost their little girl to SIDS almost 6 years ago now. We miss her daily and they’ll never be the people they would have been with her. We continue to contribute to SIDS research in her memory. I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced such a great loss.
Oh man does time keep on movin. Bob, I’ve been keeping up with you and your blog for quite some time now. I remember your announcement about Chase and sent you a condolence email, along with hundreds or even thousands of your readers/fans, that expressed our sorrow for your loss. Thank you for the link/re-post of the article you wrote about Chase and SIDS. It impacted me. My thoughts are still with you, your wife and your 3 rascals.
Like the previous commenter, I too remember your column from 10 years ago, and I have had two kids since then. I can also echo another commenter’s experience with the breathing-motion monitor. It really does work well, and consistently so. I think one benefit of this type of monitor is that, unlike a heart monitor, it does not require anything to be attached to the baby.
The only brand I’ve seen available in the USA is “Angel Care”, which I believe is produced under license from the Israeli company referenced by the previous commenter.
Of course, any monitor will only alert you to when something has already gone wrong. What would be wonderful would be if we could act to prevent SIDS in the first place.
Yeah Bob, what ever happened to your venture into anti-SIDs technology? Did you get bored and give up or what?
Excuse me. What the hell? The man is talking about the anniversary of his son’s death and you’re *trolling* him?
This may be the Internet, but what about some basic manners and human empathy?
Let’s not be too hard on Brook. Bob ended his last column by saying “I won’t write about this again, but if you can help in any way, I urge you to contact me…” So perhaps Bob needed to be reminded that we do want to hear more about that project, if there was enough response to make it possible.
I wish I could agree with you, but sorry, no.
Does someone who wants to “help” phrase the question as “Did you get bored and give up or what?” Does “helping” mean feeling entitled to call a man to task for a (perhaps rash) commitment he made in a state of grief a decade ago?
And, by the way, I seem to recall that Bob later said that he found so many promising ongoing SIDS technology projects that anything he could organize would be re-inventing the wheel. Does anyone else remember that?
You are correct, I was paying more attention to the question than the indelicate way it was phrased. (Although I suspect by now Bob is used to indelicately phrased questions.)
It is so important for us to remember. I have re-blogged to column so more people can learn about Chase and SIDS.
Condolences and respects.
Condolences to you and yours.
I just reread the original post and it’s just as heart breaking as when I read it 10 years ago.
There really aren’t any words that are even adequate for the loss of a child, I trust the 10 years have at least lessened the pain
Bob, take the time you need and then… One foot in front of the other… Every day. That’s what I do. It seems to work for me for my losses.
I still remember reading the original post 10 years ago, my oldest was 8 months at the time and I recall trying to empathize how it would feel to lose her. Not long after that column a co-worker lost a child to SIDS. I saw him recently and the impact of that loss is still there.
I’m hopeful that smart, determined people will find a way to reduce SIDS deaths through research, technology, and the application thereof.
I offer my condolences and the thought that all of us who are parents hug our children a little tighter.
Thanks for sharing, Bob. Love your wife and children, then write for us in your free time.
God did not
send his Son
into the world
to condemn the world,
but in order
that the world
might be saved
— John 3:17
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. Our first child, our daughter Tatiana, was stillborn. We had clear sailing, with no problems detected, when, two weeks before her due date, my wife went to a schedule checkup, and they could detect no heartbeat. We later found out that the umbilical cord had attached to the bottom of the placental sack, and not in the middle as is common. At some point the cord became twisted and she was gone. The pain for us was that this was a 1 in 100,000 event, and something that is not ordinarily looked for.
We have two boys now, but she is still with us, and we make sure our boys know they have a big sister in heaven that looks out for them.
This happened in 2005 but I still remember everything.
I’m sorry for you and your wife’s loss.
Bob, I still remember that column like it was yesterday. You were going to marshall all your resource to come up with a SIDS monitoring device after this tragedy. Whatever happened to that?
When you look at that picture it must feel like it happened just yesterday.
ours would have been 15. we join you in the sadness. we rejoice to be able to help others now who are still losing newborns. we hope you guys have healed enough to give support to others who need your comfort and wisdom. we hope you are able to pass along some hope for peace, having found it yourselves.
You may find this of interest:
Funding comes from Microsoft. Kinda cosmic that one of the team members is named Chase…
I am sorry for your loss. Someday they will figure it out and no parent will have to go through what you did.
I remember the first time you wrote about this, brought a lump to my throat then, as it has now. I hope very much that real progress can be made on understanding this, and prevention.
My thoughts are with you and your family.
I remember the 10 years like it was yesterday.
I too experienced heart felt sorrow.
There is absolutely nothing Bob could have done to prevent what happened.
My Two Cents
I have practiced Emergency Medicine for over 20 years and performed numerous cardiac and respiratory resuscitations (including infants). Based on my clinical experience and knowledge of heart pathophysiology I am convinced true SIDS is a cardiac event. Whether this is intrinsic to the heart or neurally mediated is not know.
If one stops breathing the heart does not immediately stop. If one’s heart “stops” they almost immediately stop breathing. Apnea is not SIDS.
As children/infants rarely have structural disease of the heart muscle, conducting tissue or coronary arteries detection of a life-threatening/ending arrythmia is nearly impossible before it occurs.
In adults cardiac arrest is well recognized as a cause of “sudden death”. Great advances have been made in the past 10-15 years with the advent of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) in adult patients with a prior “Sudden Death” event. ICD’s provide electrical therapy within seconds of detection. This expensive high tech solution that works in appropriately selected patients.
Electrical therapy within the first two minuts of cardiac arrest is crucial for successful resuscitation. Most lay persons do not have access to a defibrillator. This has changed a bit with the advent of portable AEDs (Automated External Defrillators) that are seen in some airports and homes.
CPR is nominally effective at best without electrical therapy.
The main point is that the likely hood of successful resuscitation from cardiac arrest is extremely low if it occurs in the absence of trained medical staff or trained lay persons with access to an AED. At this time infants undergoing unexpected cardiac arrest have little to no chance.
“…I am convinced true SIDS is a cardiac event…” Perhaps, but I suspect that description of the problem is not mentioned in the wikipedia article because all forms of death are “a cardiac event”. In other words the question is why would anyone’s heart just stop, regardless of age.
Your reply is a “gotcha moment” and absolutely correct in that cardiac arrest (heart stopping) eventually occurs in all deaths.
Prior to posting my initial comments I gave significant thought about how much detail to include as this is not a medical blog. In retrospect my “bullet description” is a generalization that provides insufficient explanation for those without specific medical or scientific training.
To clarify, when referring to cardiac arrest as the primary cause of death it is the main precipitating event. A heart may continue to beat after the brain and other organs fail; however, unconsciousness occurs withing six seconds of the loss of blood flow with death inevitable by 10 minutes.There are various physiologic processes that cause primary cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest typically occurs from either Ventricular fibrillation (heart is quivering but not pumping blood) or asystole (heart just stops). Immediate treatment is different for each condition; however, the end result (death) is the same if treatment not successful.
I don’t know if this is an appropriate comment but knowing what I know this is my heart felt belief:
If I was unable to prevent the death of my child or my wife, whether anticipated or unexpected, I would want them to die in my arms. For me this would be the best possible closure. A parent has NO ability to prevent the death of their child from true SIDS.
If you have specific questions or desire further explanation of opinions expressed in my previous posting PLEASE email me.
Sigh…wish I could give you a hug…
Bob, I was so sad to learn about this tragedy. Heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.
I’m a father of a 44 day baby girl, which is currently in my lap. I just frose after reading the original article. I had no idea it could be so sudden, or that it had happened to you.
I think SIDS research has lost its momentum due to the success of the Back To Sleep initiative, and the lack of a further breakthrough. Really hope someone starts looking at this with greater interest. Knowing the existence of this silent killer condition just creeps me out.
The idea you had was just great. Statistically, there would be some real good data. I hope that somehow, someday, someone has the resources to make it real.
I am just as moved today as I was ten years ago when you first wrote about his passing. At the time, I was a new father, much like you.
Time may not heal all wounds, but it does show us how we can endure them. May life’s tribulations be no more than you can bear. My deepest sympathies are with you on this anniversary.
Bob, I was so saddened to read of your loss. What a cute little guy! I hope you went on to have more children, not because it would replace Chase (no way!) but because of the capacity to care, to love, to feel, and to remember that you have shown suggests to me that you’d be a fantastic dad. The world needs more those kind.
It is a terrible experience to loose a child. I am sorry for your loss. I hope soon there is a way to prevent SIDS.
The ability to endure such a lose is a testament to the strength of the Cringely family. My condolences to you and yours Bob.
SIDS has been cured:
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A Seattle researcher believes there’s a connection between SIDS and hearing difficulty.
I am reading your pieces on IBM and ran across this one. I grieve for all your family. I believe it is impossible for anyone who has not experienced the loss of a child to understand the impact it has on a family, and I hope that you family has recovered as much as anyone ever can with no real closure. My own family is one year post-loss of our grandchild to what they now call Sudden Unexplained Death in Children. We saw him every day. He was 28 months old, knew everyone’s name, was healthy and strong, and received vigilant attention, love and medical care — and then he was dead. We are still looking for answers.
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