Forensic Aspects of Perinatal Pathology

  • Liina KihoEmail author
  • Roger D. G. Malcomson


Neonaticide occurs throughout the world and is thought to be one of the least preventable crimes. Appropriately, perinatal pathologists can sometimes be asked to lend their expertise to the forensic examination of stillborn or newly born babies who have died in unusual or suspicious circumstances. Such babies are often the product of concealed pregnancies, have been abandoned shortly after delivery, or have been stillborn and their bodies deliberately (often poorly) concealed. Rarely, mummified or skeletonized remains may be brought to our attention by law enforcement agencies. In addition to the usual problems in the identification of the cause of death, various additional considerations are of importance, principally in relation to the potential for homicide/neonaticide. It is crucial that there be a thorough assessment of the apparent age/viability of the neonate and whether or not it can be determined if the baby had been born alive and had an independent existence, separate from the mother.

In this chapter, we explore some of the medicolegal issues raised by such cases. In particular, we recognize the growing utility and importance of the application of modern radiological imaging to this area of perinatal autopsy practice.


Forensic Autopsy Neonate Neonaticide Infanticide Suffocation Asphyxiation Neglect Abandonment Injury 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistopathologyGreat Ormond Street HospitalLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of HistopathologyUniversity Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester Royal InfirmaryLeicesterUK

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