Myocarditis Misdiagnosed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

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Abstract

In a retrospective study spanning five years, the histologic sections of 35 autopsies of infants diagnosed as SIDS victims were reviewed. Based on a recently reported study in which findings on marked basement membrane thickening (BMT) in the true vocal cords was suggested as a pathognomonic marker of SIDS, we expected to find BMT in all these cases. However, in seven of the reviewed autopsies (20%) no BMT was detected. Examination of new histologic sections of all the victims revealed myocarditis in these seven cases. In a control group (n=18) of children with known cause of death, neither BMT nor myocarditis were found. The incidence of myocardial diseases in infants and young adults (20% and 22% respectively) reported in the literature indicates that myocarditis is not a rare cause of sudden death in infants. Therefore, in SIDS-suspected cases a meticulous post-mortem microscopic examination of the heart should be carried out, especially whenever BMT of the vocal cords is absent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-18
Number of pages3
JournalMedicine, Science and the Law
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997

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