The Jeremy Rill Centre: a provincial reference centre for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The Jeremy Rill Centre of The Montreal Children’s Hospital is marking its 20th anniversary this year. In 1986, after Jeremy Rill died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), his parents, Eric Rill and Andrée Lagannière, wanted to create a centre which would allow healthcare professionals to offer support and help to parents who are learning to cope with the shock of losing a child. Their wish was realized.

Working closely with the Coroner’s office, the team from the Jeremy Rill Centre is notified about SIDS deaths and can thus start the follow-up process with families throughout Quebec. The team offers telephone support as well as providing documentation on bereavement resources, and books and audiovisual materials created specifically for families who are dealing with SIDS. The staff at the Jeremy Rill Centre also mark the birth date and date of death of the child by sending personalized cards to the family. “Parents often tell us that we’re sometimes the only ones to remember these important dates and they greatly appreciate it,” says Dr. Aurore Côté, a respiratory medicine physician at The Montreal Children’s Hospital.

In addition to providing support to parents, the Centre carries out important epidemiological research in Quebec. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is defined as the sudden and unexpected death of an otherwise healthy child. In 1986, the majority of SIDS cases were unexplained. “Today, thanks to more in-depth research, we’re succeeding in finding the cause for nearly 40 per cent of cases. And when we determine the cause of death in one family, we can sometimes help to prevent it from happening again in the same family,” says Dr. Côté.

There are two major risk factors which people should avoid to help protect their baby:
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy .
  • Do not place your baby on his stomach to sleep.