The utility of pulmonary interstitial emphysema (PIE) in live birth determination is not well established. Because the distinction between live birth and stillbirth may be important in criminal proceedings, we undertook this study to investigate the relationship between the histologic finding of PIE and live birth. Sixty-six cases of infant death were retrieved and compared with 21 stillborn infants. Histologic sections of the lungs were characterized as “florid PIE,” “equivocal PIE,” or “absent PIE.” Sixteen cases of florid PIE were identified, all in live born infants. Forty-seven cases of equivocal PIE were found in 36 live born and 11 stillborn infants. In 24 cases (14 live born infants and 10 stillborns), no PIE was identified. We examined the relationship between florid PIE in infants with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or “sudden unexpected death in infancy, manner undetermined” (SUDI), and also its relationship to other variables. No association was found. The presence of equivocal PIE may be an artifact of tissue processing.
Florid PIE is found only in live born infants. No correlation between the presence of florid PIE and cause of death could be determined.
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