A Retrospective Study of the Investigation of Homicidal Childhood Asphyxial Deaths

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As one of the leading causes of traumatic deaths in newborns, infants, and young children, there is no anatomic or microscopic feature that is pathognomonic for asphyxial deaths. Instead, pathologists rely on investigation information, including confessions and/or witness statements, and potential evidence at the scene. Twenty cases of homicidal newborn, infant, and young children asphyxial deaths were reviewed, which included death and police investigation reports and autopsy reports, as well as histology slides of lung sections. This series of homicidal asphyxial deaths highlight that, in a vast majority of such cases, the final cause and manner of death rulings are dependent on confession by the perpetrator. Furthermore, this series highlights the possible role of histology to help forensic pathologists better certify asphyxial deaths. Finally, this series emphasizes important investigation points and considerations at autopsy during the investigation of asphyxial deaths in newborns, infants, and young children.

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