Differential diagnosis SIDS/non-SIDS on the basis of histological findings of petechial thymus hemorrhages

Forensic Sci Int. 1989 Sep;43(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/0379-0738(89)90115-1.


Petechial thymus hemorrhages are found most frequently in SIDS (87%), and very much more rarely in fetuses after abortion and stillbirths (55%) as well as in perinatal deaths (40%). In these groups, there was a uniform histological bleeding pattern with emphasis on the cortical zone. In non-SIDS deaths of natural causes or extrinsic suffocation in babies and infants, it could be demonstrated in 39%. In extrinsic suffocation, the thymus hemorrhages were mostly less pronounced in quantitative terms than in SIDS. In non-SIDS (without extrinsic suffocation), a hemorrhage pattern different from SIDS could be detected with hemorrhagias of different sizes and irregularly distributed over the cortex and medulla.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / pathology
  • Asphyxia / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / pathology
  • Hemorrhage / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lymphatic Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Purpura / pathology
  • Sudden Infant Death / etiology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / pathology
  • Thymus Gland / pathology*