Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Investigating infant deaths

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:206

Rapid Response:

Re: Gold Standards

To Penny Mellors' commendable list, I should like to add two more:

a) Total Body X-Ray. This is briefly mentioned in the Kennedy
Report in the Pathology section where it is inappropriate and impractical.
A total body x-ray may reveal lung changes which are not necessarily
obvious at autopsy, as well as unsuspected skeletal injuries. A single
body x-ray is technically easy but presents a number of clinical
considerations. It is therefore best arranged by a paediatrician before
the infant is moved to the mortuary.

b) Siblings. It is vital to examine any vulnerable siblings
especially a twin, as a matter of urgency. This may not only be life-
saving but bacteriological and biochemical investigations during life are
infinitely more reliable than after death.

Herbert Barrie, MD, FRCP, FRCPCH

Competing interests:

Competing interests: No competing interests

03 February 2005
Herbert Barrie
Retired Paediatrician
3 Burghley Avenue, New Malden, Surrey KT3 4SW