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June 1942


Arch Otolaryngol. 1942;35(6):893-898. doi:10.1001/archotol.1942.00670010901006

A well known pathologist recently remarked to me that he dreaded the ordeal of performing an autopsy on newborn infants because so frequently no information is revealed to explain the cause of death. Every hospital staff knows the frequency with which the combination of circumstances—death from respiratory failure and negative autopsy findings—occurs.

A large number of contributions to the literature of recent date have forced a revision, if not a complete rejection, of the previously held concept of the status and the function of the fetal lung. In the past, the lung was looked on as a mass of collapsed inert tissue, waiting for the arrival of birth to set off the spark of its functional activity. Enough has been learned to date to show that, on the contrary, (1) respiratory movements take place in utero at least during the last half of fetal life; (2) that there is a

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