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Transient Pigmentary Lines of the Newborn in a Postmortem Examination

A Case Report

Terry, Merryl, MD*; Marlowe Stewart, Donna, MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2019 - Volume 40 - Issue 2 - p 171–174
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000461
Case Reports

Sudden unexplained death in infancy is a leading cause of death among infants between 1 month and 1 year of age in the United States. The medical examiner is frequently given the difficult task of attempting to rule out other causes of death such as infantile trauma or child abuse. A thorough postmortem examination of the skin is a crucial component of the autopsy, as is sufficient knowledge of both benign and traumatic skin pathologies. In addition to lifesaving interventions performed by medical personnel, traditional remedies may also be performed that could be confused with trauma. Eastern medicinal therapies such as coining, cupping, or spooning may leave unusual markings on the patient. Transient pigmentary lines of the newborn are a rare but benign dermatologic finding of unknown etiology that should also be kept in the differential diagnoses. The authors present a case of this unique skin condition seen on a 1-month-old African American male infant who was found unresponsive, in addition to a current literature review.

From the *Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine; and

Kentucky Chief Medical Examiner Office, Louisville, KY.

Manuscript received September 17, 2018; accepted November 29, 2018.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Merryl Terry, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, 550 S Jackson St, A1E17, Louisville, KY 40202. E-mail:

© 2019 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.