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March 4, 1968


JAMA. 1968;203(10):17-30. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140100095047

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Spinal Injury Suspect In Crib Deaths  Autopsies on crib death cases have revealed evidence of spinal injury, indicating a possible cause of the puzzling condition.Abraham Towbin, MD, told the American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists in Chicago that in eight cases of "crib death," seven babies were found to have spinal epidural hemorrhage. This form of spinal injury is commonly found in autopsies on the newborn.The exception, he said, was a two-month-old infant who had massive aspiration of gastric contents. Three control cases, infants who died of distinctly different pathological causes, showed no spinal hemorrhage.Dr. Towbin is associate professor of pathology in the Department of Pathology, Boston University School of Medicine.Although spinal epidural hemorrhage is not necessarily lethal, Dr. Towbin said, the force of the trauma producing it, "extending its effects, and impairing the function of the cervical cord, may precipitously bring about spinal shock