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The Death-Scene Investigation

[ Vol. 6 , Issue. 1 ]


Martin Schlaud   Pages 27 - 29 ( 3 )


The death-scene investigation is an important and increasingly recognized step in the process of diagnosing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). According to current definitions, information from death-scene investigations is required when SIDS diagnoses are made. Due to differences in national jurisdictions, however, there are differences in the methods used and the professions involved in routinely performed death-scene investigations. Therefore any international comparability of death-scene data is limited. Only a few epidemiological studies have used thorough death-scene investigations in a systematic way, including a standardized, objective observation of the scene in cases and reference data from the general population. These studies gave close insights into the circumstances of infant death, but their complex protocols are mostly not feasible for routine use. For that purpose, manageable death-scene investigation protocols need to be distilled from the ones used in complex studies, taking into account their results. Whilst protocols for post-mortem examinations and definitions for SIDS have been largely standardized and agreed internationally, this step is still missing for death-scene investigations. If routinely obtained death-scene data were standardized and, thus, comparable, this would have a potential of generating new hypotheses that eventually lead to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms and to more effective measures of prevention.


SIDS, infant, death, scene, investigation


Robert Koch Institute, Dept. of Epidemiology and Health Reporting, P.O. Box 65 02 61, 13302 Berlin, Germany.

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