Chapter 7: How can other outcomes occur because of harmful rebreathing?

If you have been following what I have been suggesting to this point, you will see that I believe (and possibly you do as well) that SIDS is not a sudden event but the end result of a longer process whereby harmful rebreathing has led to a SIDS death. What I want to consider now is the question, “Does anything happen to those babies who suffer from a harmful rebreathing event if the harmful rebreathing was interrupted before the final outcome, a SIDS death, occurred.” As an example, if harmful rebreathing leads to a SIDS death in fifteen minutes (just a suggestion), what happens to the early infant should they be picked up (perhaps just by coincidence) after about 12 minutes.  The answer could be, “Nothing at all,” but I don’t believe so. I believe that in these cases there has been some partial harm caused by harmful rebreathing and this has long term effects for the child.  I believe that the effects of partial or interrupted harmful rebreathing are for the most part brain damage and/or lung damage due to the hypoxia or change in blood chemistry. Frankly I don’t know how anyone could think otherwise, if they believe that harmful rebreathing causes SIDS.

Many believe that in SIDS cases, there are no such things as: "Near-miss SIDS", "Near SIDS", "Aborted SIDS", “pre-SIDS” or “ALTE” (apparent life threatening events).  It is considered that since SIDS is sudden, there can be no pre-SIDS events. But as I have mentioned there have been some instances where there has been observed passivity or unresponsiveness, pink fluid in the nostrils, high heartbeat, as well as overheating. These shows us that SIDS is not an instantaneous or sudden event but a longer process (how long, we don’t know yet), and it shows us that there can be some indicators, however difficult to observe. As our knowledge of this process improves, perhaps we will be able to observe these pre-SIDS indicators better and sooner so that action can take place in time. Also understanding this process may lead to devices that can actually help parents avoid these events. Consider for a moment that a simple device that measures CO2 content in the air next to the infant’s mouth or nose would serve as an effective monitor.

Some have thought that apnea, the occasional practice of stopping breathing, was a pre-SIDS indicator, but this has proven not to be the case even though apnea had been observed in a few cases. Because it is rather rare for SIDS deaths to happen to a baby that has practiced apnea, it has been ruled out as the cause. Because I believe that SIDS is not the stoppage of breathing, but the continuance of breathing harmfully with damaging results, I don’t believe that apnea is related to SIDS. The occasional stoppage in breathing may indicate that the breathing control system is working, as the infant stops breathing temporarily because of an excess of oxygen in the lungs at that time.

Also some have thought that SIDS is a form of suffocation, but again this has not proven true. Since many SIDS cases have occurred when the early infants’ mouth or nose was forced into their bedding or soft toy, it becomes easy to conclude that they have suffocated. Under many instances however those who are suffocated or drowned, can be resuscitated.  Under no circumstances can a baby who has suffered a SIDS death be revived. But there is some similarity to suffocation or drowning that I wish to draw. Consider that some cases of drowning or suffocation cannot be revived because too much time has elapsed since the person or child had last been breathing. However, if they are revived shortly after they had drowned or suffocated, then there often is absolutely no apparent harm to the individual. However, if a longer period of time has elapsed since they had last been breathing, then often some brain and lung damage does occur. How much damage often is dependent on the amount of time elapsed (and the temperature of the water in the case of drowning). The parallel I wish to draw is that an interrupted period of harmful rebreathing, like a person who has been resuscitated from a drowning, avoids a SIDS death but may not avoid some brain or lung damage that can occur.

Two factors will influence what form and how severe that brain damage is: the first is the duration of the harmful rebreathing before being interrupted; the second (which I will explore shortly) is the age of the baby at the time of the incident. Another consideration is how many incidences of harmful rebreathing have occurred during the first year of the infant’s life (many instances of harmful rebreathing may lead to multiple learning disabilities).

What are some of the other possible outcomes?

The following are some the outcomes that I believe may be the result of harmful rebreathing other than SIDS: Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Tourette’s Syndrome, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Mental Retardation, Learning Disabilities such as dyslexia (weak ability to read) or dysgraphia (weak ability at drawing and hand writing), visual, hearing, and speech impairments, multiple learning disabilities, and many other less known disabilities related to brain function. The harm caused by harmful rebreathing to the lungs on the other hand is for the most part, asthma. This list of possible outcomes could be longer as there are many other exceptionalities, while some on the list could be removed due to discoveries that have found causes other than harmful rebreathing, such as a genetic cause or an accident before or during birth.

Other than the logical inference that harmful rebreathing might cause brain and lung damage (and possibly other organs of the body) due to a lack on oxygen, another reason that I suggest that these exceptionalities are related to SIDS is that, for the most part, they all follow similar statistical patterns.

·      they are all considered to have their origin at or near birth

·      for the most part they involve some form of brain damage or limitation

·      at this time it is not known what causes them

·      more boys than girls suffer from these conditions, usually by a factor of two (what I call “the male factor”)

These patterns lead me to make an inference that they may all be related to each other and to SIDS. Other statistical patterns show up as well (for instance, epilepsy is more often found in the northern latitudes just as does SIDS). As I have stated, while all of the above are related to some form of brain disorder, it is quite possible that the low levels of oxygen or changed blood chemistry may cause damage to other organs of the body as well (as I have suggested that damage to the lungs may result in asthma which follows a similar statistic), and therefore may be similarly related.

At present there is no known cause of these exceptionalities. There is a great deal of research into the genetic factors that may be the cause and I believe that genetics is the cause in some instances. One cannot argue that Downs Syndrome is not a genetic consequence, due to extra chromosomes. That’s what makes the causes of many disabilities so difficult to pin down. It could be that genetics is the cause in some instances, while in others it may be due to external influences, such as harmful rebreathing or other near birth events. Is it possible that ADHD is sometimes caused by genetic factors, while in others it is because of what happened near birth? Think for a moment of the thousands who have not died of SIDS due to the practice of having newborns sleep on their backs. Had they died, we could only surmise that it was the external practice and not internal genetics that made the difference. Yet genetics and other factors (a parent who smokes) may play its part as well. Whether harmful rebreathing was avoided, or other internal or external influences, SIDS was avoided.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) is another non-genetic example of an external event (external to the baby) causing learning disabilities, as does cocaine use and other drugs. Perhaps there are even other events or practices that any mother might do, before, during and after pregnancy that could also have an impact on how a child develops (one of these is a sleeping practice which I will discuss further as part of my research at the end of this writing). One of the consequences of FASD is small birth size. Small birth size may lead to other disorders through harmful rebreathing. Therefore some of the disorders credited to FASD may in fact be those caused in part  by harmful rebreathing. The careful avoidance of harmful rebreathing may lead to improved outcomes for FASD children.


It is well agreed that many cases of Cerebral Palsy are caused by difficulties before and during birth, such as bleeding, injury, infection, or lack of oxygen (hypoxia). However, causes for some of the cases are still considered as unknown. I believe it is worth considering that some of these cases may have been caused by harmful rebreathing, particularly when it occurs immediately after birth and for premature births.

It has long been known that there is an increased risk of SIDS for premature babies. Now a study by Dr. Morse of the University of Florida shows that premature babies (even by as little as two weeks) may result in an increased occurrence of developmental delays, behavioural problems, or learning disabilities. I suggest that the reason for this is the increased risk of suffering from harmful rebreathing due to their size and limited development of their lungs.

It is not related to the purpose of this writing but I include this suggestion here because it is a possibility worth considering. Another possible outcome of harmful rebreathing could be homosexuality. The number of homosexual males compared to women is about 2 to 1, the same statistic as the male factor, suggesting that the cause of homosexuality is related to the cause of SIDS and many disorders.  Like the others it is related to how the brain has developed, like the others the cause is unknown, and like the others it is considered to originate at or near birth. There has been no known genetic cause and it not considered a learned behaviour. It would be tragically ironic if parents were discouraging thumb sucking or pacifier use on the assumption that they were reducing the possibility of their child being gay, while in fact they were actually increasing that possibility.

Why are the outcomes different for each child?

Assuming that harmful rebreathing can cause harm to a baby, the question arises as to why there are so many different outcomes. My suggestion here is that the timing of the harmful rebreathing event (how many months old the baby is) and its duration (how many minutes that harmful rebreathing takes place) determines the condition that the child will suffer.

We first have to understand that when a child is born it is not born with a fully mature brain. I don’t want to go into too much detail here because that is the material of many other publications, but a child is born with excess brain cells, which eventually organize into what we consider as a fully mature brain. Most of that organization or forming happens in the earliest months of life, including some of the most basic functions such as sensory perceptions (as well as the breathing control system).  As we continue to learn how the brain functions we see it developing as a single unified consciousness, but dependant on modular sections. As an example, the left side deals with language, and the back handles vision, while each of these is further divided into other sections that perform more specific purposes (i.e., auditory input, interpreting colour, distinguishing faces, recognizing basic shapes, etc.). All of these modular parts don’t necessarily develop at the same time. Therefore a harmful rebreathing event that happens in the first month will likely be a different outcome for a baby who is in their eighth month.  As an example, an event in the first month (closest to birth) may result in epilepsy or Autism, while an event in later months, may result in something less significant such as ADHD.

Also keep in mind that no two brains develop (unfold) at the exact same time. Nor for the most part do boys’ brains match time-wise their development with that of girls. Therefore a harmful rebreathing event in the third month may result in one form of disability for one child but a different disability for another. Thus the timing of the event may determine the type of disability, while the length of the event would have a bearing on the severity of the condition.

Because it is possible that newborns suffer more than one harmful rebreathing event, it would be predictable that children might suffer more than just one disability. This is indeed the case. As an example, sufferers of epilepsy often also suffer learning disabilities such as ADHD. Those who suffer Tourette’s Syndrome, displaying tics, often also suffer from OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder.  Despite these patterns, many children suffer a random mix of exceptionalities. Many who have ADHD also display tics. The random occurrences of harmful rebreathing events may account for the random mix of multiple disabilities.

Another theory is that the variance in disabilities is not due to their timing after birth. The alternative is that the type of disability is due to the duration of the harmful rebreathing event, the longer the event, the more serious the disability. I am more inclined to believe that it is the timing, not the duration that decided the type of disability. If it were the duration, then the events that lasted the longest would be an accumulation of all disabilities, and all follow a similar pattern. However this pattern has not been observed.

What do I mean by “the male factor”?

For many disabilities and illnesses, there is a persistent statistic that shows that men suffer these more than women by a factor of about two. For some it is only 1.5, for others it might be 2.5 or 4. It all depends on the illness or disability being studied and how the statistics were calculated. It just keeps coming through that men suffer these exceptionalities more than women, including women living longer than men. We have come to accept this, but there is no reason we should. I question why this occurs, what causes it, and if we can, how can this be avoided? What I am inferring from these statistics, unproven, is that these exceptionalities all stem from one central cause and this cause is harmful rebreathing.

When I look at SIDS, I see that it follows this same statistic. More boys suffer a SIDS death than girls. If I believe that harmful rebreathing is the cause of SIDS, then to me it follows that harmful rebreathing is the cause of the other illnesses and disabilities as well. If something other than harmful rebreathing is the cause of SIDS, then this other cause is, in all likelihood, also the cause for those other exceptionalities because they follow this statistical pattern. However, when I add this statistical inference to the logical assumption that hypoxia, lack of oxygen, or any resultant change in blood chemistry due also to excess of CO2, would likely cause illnesses or disabilities such as those that follow the statistic, it reinforces the argument. It is widely agreed that lack of oxygen will cause damage to the brain and I believe that this could be the cause of such disorders as epilepsy, autism, learning disabilities, and the like.  Alternatively if it is considered that harmful rebreathing can cause disabilities, then it could be predicted that these disabilities would follow the same statistical pattern, and they do.

It may not be that harmful rebreathing is the cause of this “male factor”, but it appears to me at this time to be the only reason offered. I doubt that any medical practitioner or researcher is attempting to understand why this male factor or statistical pattern exists, at least none that I am aware of. At least I am making a reasonable stab at an inference about what I call the “male factor”, that factor that shows men on average suffering more disabilities than women.

Why might the male factor exist (why boys more than girls)?

It is fair to ask, “If harmful rebreathing causes exceptionalities, then why does it do so more for boys than girls.   No one knows at this time why this factor exists, but I believe there are three potential reasons: timing, thumb sucking, and negligence.

As explained earlier, no two brains develop at exactly the same time. Therefore the timing of a harmful rebreathing event will likely determine the type of disability. More importantly here, I believe that the brains of boys as opposed to girls develop overall at different times. It may be that girls’ brains develop slightly earlier than that of boys, as it has often been generalized that girls’ mature sooner than boys (being a teacher, it is hard to argue against that generalization). Taking this back to the time of birth, perhaps the brains of girls have developed to such a stage that harmful rebreathing has less impact during the first year of life (and at less risk of a SIDS death or disability). Boys, on the other hand, may be experiencing major developments just after birth, such that harmful rebreathing has a more significant impact. In other words, both girls and boys experience harmful rebreathing equally, but girls suffer less of an impact because their brains have developed to a less vulnerable stage during the first year.

The problem with this argument is that this may account for fewer cases of learning disabilities for girls, but not account for fewer cases of SIDS or asthma, if we assume that they have an equal chance of suffering from harmful rebreathing. However, if the early maturing of female brains shortens the time that the breathing control system takes to be fully functional (a narrowing of the window of vulnerability), then that would account for the difference. Girls would have few opportunities of suffering a SIDS death as well as fewer opportunities of suffering a disability.

The second is the theory that boys are discouraged and/or prevented more from sucking their thumbs or using a pacifier, as opposed to girls. I have not found any statistics that would support this suggestion, but I believe it to be the case. This practice on the part of parents would put boys at greater risk, because thumb sucking or pacifier use has shown the greatest success in reducing the incidence of SIDS. But why would parents discourage or prevent their sons more than their daughters from sucking their thumb or using a pacifier? Perhaps some parents may be under the social belief that it is an acceptable activity for cute little girls, but not an appropriate behaviour for boys who will become men. They may feel that it is a girlish practice and therefore discourage it in their sons. There also may be the mistaken notion on the part of parents that thumb sucking behaviour on the part of boys will lead to homosexual behaviours later in life, subconsciously considering that thumb sucking is a precursor to oral sex, a practice of homosexual men. As I have previously suggested, homosexuality may be caused by harmful rebreathing; and it would be unfortunate if parents follow practices that unknowingly actually increase its possibility.

The third is the suggestion that boys are ignored more than girls. They are less fussed over, and as such are left on their own, at times possibly to suffer a disastrous outcome. Boys are expected to tough it out. With less attention, they are less likely to have a harmful rebreathing event interrupted.  There is the known statistic that the risk is higher for babies of single parents and for babies that attend daycare facilities. I believe this is in part due to lack of attention. A single parent does not have a spouse who can respond to the child while the parent is sleeping. Also the single parent will likely have to work and as such will be exhausted and likely sleep through periods when then baby needs attention. The same may hold true for some daycare facilities that split their time among too many babies and toddlers, and as such respond less often to each child. If lack of attention (I find the word neglect too strong) can increase the risk of SIDS in these cases, then it follows that if boys receive less attention, they would be more at risk.  Harmful rebreathing is less likely to be interrupted resulting in more cases of SIDS and other exceptionalities.

The male factor may be caused by one of these theories, or a combination of all three. In any case, I don’t believe that we have to accept the fact that men must suffer more disabilities than women as a given. Most men don’t suffer any disabilities. Perhaps what I have suggested is totally incorrect. However, I do believe that it is a worthwhile endeavour to discover the reason for the male factor, and how it can be minimized or eliminated.

Some other thoughts


      Many parents fear autism just as much as they do SIDS. Serious cases of Autism can result in very difficult parenting years and possible support throughout life. If the connection I have made between Autism and harmful rebreathing is correct, parents should have some understanding of the cause and be able to avoid this ever happening. However, one of the perplexing issues of autism is that often a child will develop normally until about 18 months, and only then will their development change to the point where things that had been learned, appear to be no longer known.  It is understandable to ask that if autism doesn’t show up until after an infant’s first year, then how could it be related to what happens in the first year. Shouldn’t this point to it not being related to harmful rebreathing and any relationship to SIDS? My take on this is that the brain has suffered damage to parts of the brain in the first year which doesn’t become evident until after the first year or later. Their initial learning may be dependent on the learning that is genetically ingrained in brain cells, such as the ability to mimic a sound, or to move to a certain extent.  Only later do other areas of the brain connect with this initial learning, as the infant begins to develop conscious control over talk and movement, as learned sounds become connected to things and meanings, and as the brain develops into an independent self-aware oneness we call consciousness. Therefore damage that had occurred in the first year to some areas of the brain because of harmful rebreathing prevent connections with other functions of the brain later, and as such the exceptionality doesn’t become evident until later. These deficiencies alter or limit that completeness of being, and that is what we call autism. 

Developmental delay; stalled or stopped

This is a short hypothesis about what possibly could happen to the brain because of harmful rebreathing that leads to exceptionalities. When harmful rebreathing occurs it causes hypoxia (shortage of oxygen) and/or a change in blood chemistry which will effect brain cell growth or survival. The question is, “How does it affect these brain cells, the neurons.” In the case of SIDS it probably causes the permanent death of neurons, which cannot be reversed, and which of course causes the death of the infant. However, in the case of disabilities does it damage the cells permanently, or does it just put a stop to the growth process of cell development? Does it just shut off a particular gene that determines future changes to the neurons? In other words, do the cells in a particular part of the brain continue to operate in a damaged state, or do they function fully but at a stalled state of development, preventing these particular cells from moving forward to their eventual mature state? My opinion is that these neurons work but only at an immature level of development. I suggest this because I consider that in the case of mental retardation I look at these individuals and it appears to me, both visually and socially, that they are aged infants rather than weak minded adults. Instead of the term developmentally delayed, they should be considered as developmentally stalled.

Perhaps I am being too overly optimistic here because if this were the case then in the future it might be possible that a procedure (developed by stem cell or hormone research and the like) could be applied such that the gene that had stopped development is turned back on, leading to the late but eventual mature growth of the cells.

As well, I believe that the plasticity of the brain, its ability to reorganize and cure itself, can reverse many of the disabilities that can occur due to harmful rebreathing. Practices such as IBI (Intensive Behavioural Intervention) have shown to reverse or reduce the behaviours of Autism when undertaken early enough. Why couldn’t other practices improve ADHD or other disabilities, as long as they are initiated early enough? I believe that many parents without knowing it have reversed a disability, or at least minimized it, just by their nurturing and progressive practices, including nutrition.