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Journal Article

Citation

Bøylestad L, Stray-Pedersen A, Vege Å, Osberg S, Rognum TO. Acta Paediatr. 2020; ePub(ePub): ePub.

Affiliation

Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, OSLO, Norway.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2020, John Wiley and Sons)

DOI

10.1111/apa.15284

PMID

32248546

Abstract

AIM: This study reviewed cases of sudden unexpected child deaths in Norway to determine the significance of death-scene investigations (DSIs) in establishing cause and manner of death, and thereby it's relevance to legal protection.

METHODS: Data from forensic autopsy reports and DSIs were collected and analysed for cases of unexpected deaths in children below four years of age in Norway during 2010-2016.

RESULTS: Out of 141 cases, the death scene was investigated as a voluntary procedure in 75 cases and by the police in 41 cases. The cause of death remained unexplained in 81/141 (57%) of the cases, of which 46/141 (33%) met the criteria for Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or Sudden unexplained death in early childhood (SUDC). The manner of death was determined in 102/141 (72%). Voluntary DSI increased the ability to rule out accidental suffocation, facilitated evaluations of environmental risk factors, and enabled detection of possible neglect.

CONCLUSION: DSIs illuminate uncertainty about the cause of death, especially in gray-area cases where accidental suffocation, neglect or abuse is suspected. Knowledge about the course of events and the cause of death enhances both the child's and the caregiver's legal protection. DSIs should therefore be mandatory.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Language: en

Keywords

Accidental suffocation; Death-scene investigation; Sudden infant death syndrome; Sudden unexplained child death; Unexpected child death

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