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Int J Legal Med. 2003 Aug;117(4):237-40. Epub 2003 May 14.

Detection of RNA viruses in sudden infant death (SID).

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Institut für Rechtsmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Münster, Röntgenstrasse 23, 48149, Münster, Germany.


Continuing previous work, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction approaches for the detection of RNA viruses (influenza A+B, parainfluenza virus 3, respiratory syncytial virus) were developed. A total of 118 infant deaths, including 13 cases of non-natural death (nND), 78 cases of natural death (ND) without morphological signs of interstitial pneumonia (IP), 27 cases showing IP (ND+IP), were investigated using frozen lung tissue ( N=100) and paraffin-embedded material ( N=18). In five of the autopsy cases (ND+IP) the influenza B virus genome could be detected and the other types of viruses were completely negative. Together with previous results (detection of adenoviruses and cytomegaloviruses) in the same groups, the frequency of virus detection in the cases with IP was 48% compared with 14% in the ND without IP and 7% in the nND. Significant differences in the frequency of virus detection were also obtained when the cases were divided in SIDS and non-SIDS. The results obtained indicate an association between IP and some viruses and support the hypothesis that respiratory virus infections could act as trigger in sudden infant death.

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