, Volume 454, Issue 4, pp 451-456
Date: 14 Mar 2009

Infant and perinatal pulmonary hypoplasia frequently associated with brainstem hypodevelopment

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Recent anatomo-pathological studies have revealed a frequent associated hypoplasia of both arcuate nucleus and lungs in stillbirths. The purpose of this study is to analyze the lung and brainstem development in sudden unexplained perinatal death and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A total of 51 cases were investigated. A complete autopsy was performed in each case. Anatomo-pathologic examination of the central autonomic nervous system included an in-depth study on histological serial sections of the brains where the main structures participating in control of the vital functions are located. The stage of lung development was evaluated by macroscopic and microscopic criteria. In 52.9% of cases, a pulmonary hypoplasia was detected. The pulmonary hypoplasia was significantly more frequent in the SIDS group compared to the sudden perinatal unexplained death groups (p < 0.05). In 72.5% of cases, histological examination of the brainstem on serial sections showed hypodevelopment of the brainstem nuclei, particularly hypoplasia, of the arcuate nucleus (60.8%). In 47.1% of cases, pulmonary hypoplasia was associated with brainstem hypodevelopment.

Competing interests statement

No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article. In particular, there are no competing interests related to this article. All authors have no conflict to disclose.