Hinged Lids and Fatal Head Entrapment in Early Childhood

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Abstract

Young children are at risk of head entrapment because they often do not understand potentially dangerous situations or have the intellectual or physical capabilities to self-extricate. Two cases of head entrapment due to hinged lids are presented to demonstrate another rare lethal situation specific to the very young. Case 1 was a 14-month-old boy found suspended by his neck in a semikneeling position under a toilet seat. A horizontal linear bruise measuring 0.6 × 20 mm was present on the right side of the neck with petechial hemorrhages of the forehead. Death was due to neck compression from head entrapment with aspiration of gastric contents. Case 2 was a 17-month-old girl found suspended by her neck from the side of her crib by a hinged cover. A horizontal linear bruise measuring 10 × 50 mm was present immediately below the suprasternal notch with numerous petechial hemorrhages of the conjunctivae and face. Death was due to neck compression from head entrapment. Although these cases are very rare, they do show the potential danger that hinged lids may present to toddlers. Autopsy evaluations require comparisons of injuries with the structure and edges of the entrapping device/object.

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