Sudden death in childhood and adolescence

J Pathol. 1989 Nov;159(3):221-4. doi: 10.1002/path.1711590308.


Sudden natural deaths of individuals between the ages of 2 and 20 years which occurred during a 20-year period were identified from mortuary records. Necropsy reports and histological sections were reviewed; 169 sudden natural deaths were identified amongst 1012 deaths in that age group. Ninety-two sudden deaths occurred to children with recognized disorders; congenital heart disease, asthma, and epilepsy were the commonest problems identified. Amongst the 77 deaths of apparently healthy children, infection was the most frequently recognized disease. Only 11 deaths were unexplained, comprising 1 per cent of the necropsy population or 6.5 per cent of sudden natural deaths, a much smaller proportion than pertains in infancy. Necropsy examination of children dying suddenly yields useful information.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death, Sudden / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden / etiology*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infections / mortality
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / mortality