18 November, 2006

Professor Southall 5:

Professor David Southall's controversial research from 1997, that I reported yesterday, was a continuation of earlier research from the 1980s in which Southall also experimented on babies by depriving them of oxygen. Moreover, Southall subsequently classified the research data as confidential in an attempt to keep it out of the public domain. On 23 August 2006, John Hemming posted the gory details:

The experiments based upon protocol 85.02 involved firstly stopping babies from breathing in when at “Functional Residual Capacity” (when they have breathed out) for 10 seconds on 10 different occasions. This was done with a face mask. It was done in both of two sleep states. The babies were subjected to 1.5% CO2 for 5 minutes in each sleep state. (normal CO2 level in air is 0.04%). Then they were given a 5 minute rest. Then the babies were subjected to 15% oxygen for 5 minutes. Normal atmospheric Oxygen is just under 21%. After this they were given 4% CO2 and the time was measured until they woke up or changed state."

"These experiments performed mainly on babies were not for the benefit of the babies, but to find out what effect it had. We have not been able to find any published results as to what happened to all of the children in Professor Southall's experiments and what overall impact the experimentation had on the babies and young children involved."

"Professor Southall has kept secret files known as Special Case files. These included medical records. This information needs to be transferred into the patients' medical records so that all the diagnoses are kept in one place and is available to benefit the patients."

See also: Mothers Against Munchausen Syndome By Proxy

I think it is possible to separate out at least three distinct areas of concern raised by this case. Firstly, the ethics of Southall's research, an issue which is a significant aspect of much wider debate on medical research. Secondly, the long- and shot-term consequences for the individuals concerned of the misdiagnosis of child illness or death and subsequent serious allegations against parents which can follow. Thirdly, something which I have only touched on tangenitally, the question of secrecy in family courts.

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