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The Use of Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema as an Indicator of Live Birth

Lavezzi, Wendy A. M.D.; Keough, Kristina M. M.D.; Der’Ohannesian, Paul J.D.; Person, Tiffany L. A.; Wolf, Barbara C. M.D.

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2003 - Volume 24 - Issue 1 - p 87-91
doi: 10.1097/01.PAF.0000052108.20359.C8

Making the determination of live birth versus stillbirth in a discarded newborn infant based on gross and microscopic autopsy findings can be a challenging task for the forensic pathologist. The traditional criteria for live birth determination are frequently challenged in court, and indisputable evidence of live birth remains elusive. The histologic finding of pulmonary interstitial emphysema has not been considered as a useful determinant of live birth. The authors report two cases of discarded newborn infants in which the finding of pulmonary interstitial emphysema was used as an indicator of live birth.

From the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Albany Medical Center Hospital (W.A.L.), Forensic Medicine, PC (B.C.W.), Albany, Capital Region Perinatal Pathology, Niskayuna (K.M.K.), and State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh (T.L.A.P.), Private practice, Albany (P.D.O.), New York, U.S.A.

Manuscript received May 20, 2002; accepted October 12, 2002.

Presented in part at the February 2001 meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Seattle, Washington.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Wendy A. Lavezzi, Albany Medical Center, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mail Code 81, 47 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208, U.S.A; e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.