shaken baby syndrome

Vaccines and Epidemics

Author: 
Jane M. Orient, MD
Article Type: 
Editorial
Issue: 
Fall 2001
Volume Number: 
6
Issue Number: 
3

It has been said that every epidemic begins with a single case report. A single case report, however, could just be an anecdote, and most "clusters" turn out to be statistical artifacts.

One can make two types of errors: Type A --- overreacting to a false alarm like Chicken Little; and Type B --- ignoring a sentinel event and behaving like an ostrich.

To limit the mortality and morbidity if there really is an epidemic, we must investigate case reports dispassionately, following the evidence wherever it leads --- even if we must dare to question some sacred cows.