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A New Reference Source for Postmortem Body Measurements and Organ Weights in Neonates and Infants

A Statistical Analysis Based on Sudden Death Classification (Part 2)

Evetts, Audrey-Ann M., MSc*†; Shkrum, Michael J., MD*†; Tugaleva, Elena, MD*†

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2018 - Volume 39 - Issue 4 - p 285–303
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000401
Original Articles

Reference charts for body and organ measurements of neonates and infants were derived from data on 900 investigations done by the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario. The statistical analyses in this new reference source addressed deficiencies in sources currently available to pathologists.

The present study also considered whether organ weights differed based on the classification of infant deaths using the original definition of either sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or sudden unexplained death (SUDS) which considers cases occurring in an unsafe sleeping environment or under adverse socioeconomic conditions. Cases of SUDS for both sexes peaked in 5 to 16 weeks of age. The thymus in the SUDS/SIDS age groups less than 25 weeks weighed more than the control group. Adrenal weights in SUDS cases between 9 and 16 weeks weighed less than SIDS cases. This could mean that deaths in unsafe sleep environments are truly sudden in infants who may have a limited adrenal response to acute hypoxia but have been unaffected by preceding chronic stressors.

From the *Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University; and

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre, University Hospital, London Ontario, Canada.

Manuscript received February 21, 2018; accepted March 7, 2018.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

No funding was received for this study.

Reprints: Elena Tugaleva, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, 339 Windermere Rd, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5A5. E-mail:

© 2018 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.