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J Forensic Sci. 2000 May;45(3):734-5.

Homicidal commotio cordis in two children.

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Office of the Medical Examiner of Cook County, Chicago, IL 60612-3705, USA.


This paper's objective is to describe two cases of fatal commotio cordis resulting from the deliberate striking of children's chests by adults with their fists. These deaths involve two male children, ages 3 years and 14 months. The clinical histories, events in the households prior to the deaths, behaviors of the children, autopsy findings, and investigation results are all similar. In both cases, fatal blows were delivered to the anterior chest with a closed fist. Both children collapsed immediately, unable to be resuscitated. Confessions were obtained in both cases by investigators soon after the children's deaths. Autopsies showed chest contusions in only one child, presumably due to knuckle impact. The cardiac rhythms noted by paramedics were ventricular fibrillation and asystole. Due to the lack of physical findings, an immediate and thorough investigation is critical. An accurate history of events preceding death must be obtained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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