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Forensic Sci Int. 1980 Nov-Dec;16(3):213-26.

Hyperplasia of islets of Langerhans and low serum insulin in cot deaths.


Of the fifty-seven cases of cot death studied two-thirds were younger than 3 months, which is also the peak age of infantile hypoglycaemia. Findings from routine necropsy and histology were scarce; in eleven cases they could be regarded as potentially fatal. About half of the infants had had a mild virus-type infection approximately one week before death. Special attention was paid to endocrine pancreas. Insulitis or lymphocytes in the septa were discovered in twelve cases. Hyperplasia of the islets of Langerhans was a common observation; the hyperplasia being either nesidioblastosis-like with clusters of islets around ducti, or diffuse. The average proportion of islet tissue in the whole pancreas parenchyma was around 5% in infants aged 1--6 months, the percentage being significantly greater than in age-matched controls (4.3%). The pancreatic insulin content was also higher in the cot death cases. Serum insulin values were low (mean 4.8 +/- 1.2 microU/ml) in cot deaths; in the controls they were twice as high (mean 11.6 +/- 1.6 microU/ml) (p less than 0.005). The cause of death in this group of cot deaths could thus be (congenital?) hyperplasia of the islets, possibly combined with a lesion in the B-cells caused by a virus. The mechanism of death would be hypoglycaemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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