Contribution of bacteriology and virology in sudden unexpected death in infancy

L. Prtak, Mudher Al-Adnani, P. Fenton, G. Kudesia, Marta C. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To appraise the inter-agency protocol used in sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) cases in South Yorkshire, UK.

Design: A retrospective audit of 121 postmortems carried out over a 3-year period was completed to assess adherence to local guidelines introduced in 2005 specifying the required microbiological specimen set to be collected at postmortem in cases of SUDI. Data on organisms isolated was also collated and assessed for significance.

Setting: Sheffield Children's Hospital Histopathology Department is the South Yorkshire referral centre for SUDI. Post-mortem samples were processed by Sheffield Teaching Hospital's microbiology and virology departments.

Patients: All postmortems of SUDI in children less than 2 years of age performed between January 2004 and December 2007.

Results: 116/121 cases had samples sent for microbiological and/or virological investigation: 90% of cases had a blood culture and 68% had a cerebrospinal fluid sample taken.

Of the 116 cases, 49% had a potentially pathogenic organism isolated, 73% had post-mortem flora and 10% had no organisms isolated (32% had both post-mortem flora and a potential pathogen). 27% of cases were found to have middle ear exudate requiring sampling, from 48% of which a potentially pathogenic organism was isolated.

Conclusions Our finding of a potential pathogen in 57/116 (49%) of our cases, although not necessarily the cause of death, confirms the relevance of performing multisite and virology investigations in all cases of SUDI. Standardised protocols with agreed definitions are necessary for a consistent approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-376
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


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