This is an investigation of anatomical and sleep history risk factors that were associated with abrupt sleep-associated death in seven children with good pre-mortem history. Seven young children with abrupt deaths and information on health status, sleep history, death scene report, and autopsy performed in a specialized unit dedicated to investigation of abrupt death in young children were investigated Seven age and gender matched living children with obstructive-sleep-apnea (OSA) were compared to the findings obtained from the dead children. Two deaths results from accidents determined by the death scene and five were unexplained at the death scene. History revealed presence of chronic indicators of abnormal sleep in all cases prior death and history of an acute, often mild, rhinitis just preceding death in several. Four children, including three infants, were usually sleeping in a prone position. Autopsy demonstrated variable enlargement of upper airway soft tissues in all cases, and in all cases, there were features consistent with a narrow, small nasomaxillary complex, with or without mandibular retroposition. All children were concluded to have died of hypoxia during sleep. Our OSA children presented similar complaints and similar facial features. Anatomic risk factors for a narrow upper airway can be determined early in life, and these traits are often familial. Their presence should lead to greater attention to sleep-related complaints that may be present very early in life and indicate impairment of well been and presence of sleep disruption. Further investigation should be performed to understand the role of upper airway infection in the setting of anatomically small airway in apparently abrupt death of infants and toddlers.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00431-012-1727-3
View details for Web of Science ID 000307701100008
View details for PubMedID 22492014