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Sudden Death in Infancy

Am J Dis Child. 1968;116(3):340-341. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1968.02100020344030.
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Pathologists have contributed a great proportion of the literature of sudden death in infancy (SUD) and in contrast to clinicians have proposed most of the many hypotheses, based on autopsy findings, to explain it.

Geertinger, a forensic pathologist, proposes a new hypothesis based on somewhat circuitous reasoning that these deaths are due to a congenital defect of calcium metabolism indicated by morphological features of the parathyroids. He presents numerous photomicrographs to illustrate abnormalities which he believes to be significant. Postmortem studies showed slightly decreased blood calcium levels, which, if trustworthy, are not sufficiently low to establish a complete analogy with infantile tetany. He also reports a decrease of bone citrate at postmortem. Surprisingly and inconsistently he reports moderately increased spinal fluid calcium. That statistical treatment of the data is not included detracts considerably from the reader's ability to assess the hypothesis.

The author reviews the worldwide incidence of SUD,


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