Late-form hemorrhagic disease of the newborn: a fatal case report with illustration of investigations that may assist in avoiding the mistaken diagnosis of child abuse

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1999 Mar;20(1):48-51. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199903000-00012.


Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN) is usually a self-limiting hemorrhagic disorder of childhood that occurs as a result of vitamin K deficiency. It may be defined as early or late form depending on the time of onset related to birth. HDN is recognized as one of several bleeding disorders that can mimic the findings of nonaccidental head injury and may lead to a mistaken diagnosis of child abuse. We present a single fatal case of late-onset HDN with illustration of hematologic assays that can be performed to assist the pathologist in making the correct diagnosis of HDN.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers*
  • Blood Coagulation Factors / analysis
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Forensic Medicine / methods*
  • Hematologic Tests
  • Hematoma, Subdural / etiology
  • Hematoma, Subdural / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Protein Precursors / analysis
  • Prothrombin / analysis
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / blood
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / diagnosis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Coagulation Factors
  • Protein Precursors
  • acarboxyprothrombin
  • Prothrombin