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July 1984

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Caused by Poliomyelitis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neuropathology, Royal Perth (Western Australia) Hospital (Drs Dunne and Harper) and the Department of Forensic Pathology, State Health Laboratories, Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre, Nedlands, Western Australia (Dr Hilton).

Arch Neurol. 1984;41(7):775-777. doi:10.1001/archneur.1984.04050180097026

• Most seemingly well infants who die suddenly and unexpectedly have no adequate cause of death found on thorough postmortem examination. Respiratory and enteric viruses are often present, especially in the upper respiratory tract, but the infective process seems, of itself, insufficient to cause death. In the remainder of the cases, a variety of lesions will be discovered, including viral myocarditis, bronchiolitis, and sepsis. We report a case of sudden and unexpected death in a 5-week-old male infant due to acute anterior poliomyelitis. This case illustrates the importance of a thorough postmortem examination, including histologic studies of the brain stem and spinal cord in cases of sudden infant death syndrome.

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