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Publication Detail
Causes of Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood: Autopsy Findings from a Specialist Centre.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Bryant VA, Jacques TS, Sebire NJ
  • Publisher:
    Springer Verlag
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
  • Journal:
    Pediatric and Developmental Pathology
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Country:
    United States
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    autopsy, post-mortem, pre-existing conditions, sudden unexpected death, unexplained
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the aetiologies of sudden unexpected death from natural causes in children aged 1-18 years by retrospective examination of autopsy records from a single centre. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The post-mortem findings from 548 children (1996-2015) were examined. Details were entered into an established research database and categorized according to >400 pre-defined criteria. RESULTS: There were 265 previously apparently healthy children and 283 with pre-existing, potentially life-limiting, conditions. There were more males than females (M:F 1.4:1), and deaths were more frequent in the winter. Infection was commonest accounting for 43% of all deaths. Non-infectious diseases were identified as cause of death in 28%, and 29% of all deaths were unexplained. There was no significant difference in the proportions of deaths in each category between the previously healthy children and those with pre-existing conditions. CONCLUSION: Sudden unexpected death is a rare presentation of death in childhood and those with pre-existing conditions may be more at risk. Standardisation of the post-mortem procedure in such cases may result in more ancillary investigations performed as routine and may reduce the number of cases that are 'unexplained'.
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