Gas dispersal potential of bedding as a cause for sudden infant death

Jun Sakai, Jun Kanetake, Shirushi Takahashi, Yoshimasa Kanawaku, Masato Funayama

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11 Citations (Scopus)


We assessed the gas dispersal potential of bedding articles used by 14 infants diagnosed with sudden unexpected infant death at autopsy. Of these cases, eight exhibited FiCO2 values greater than 10% within 2.5 min, six of which were found prone and two supine. The results demonstrated that these eight beddings had a high rebreathing potential if they covered the babies' faces. We did not, however, take into account in our model the large tissue stores of CO2. As some bicarbonate pools will delay or suppress the increase of FiCO2, the time-FiCO2 graphs of this study are not true for living infants. This model, however, demonstrated the potential gas dispersal ability of bedding. The higher the FiCO2 values, the more dangerous the situation for rebreathing infants. In addition, FiO2 in the potential space around the model's face can be estimated mathematically using FiCO2 values. The FiO2 graph pattern for each bedding item corresponded roughly to the inverse of the FiCO2 time course. The FiO2 of the above eight cases decreased by 8.5% within 2.5 min. Recent studies using living infants placed prone to sleep reported that some babies exhibited larger decreases in FiO2 than increases observed in FiCO2. While the decrease of FiO2 in our model is still theoretical, CO2 accumulation and O2 deprivation are closely related. If a striking O2 deficiency occurs in a short period, babies can lose consciousness before an arousal response is evoked and all infants could be influenced by the poor gas dispersal of bedding; the main cause of sudden death in infancy would thus be asphyxia. When the bedding is soft, the potential for trapping CO2 seems to be high; however, it is impossible to assess it by appearance alone. We sought to provide some objective indices for the assessment of respiratory compromise in relation to bedding using our model. When a baby is found unresponsive with his/her face covered with poor gas dispersal bedding, we should consider the possibility of asphyxia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-97
Number of pages5
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Sep 18


  • Bedding
  • Mathematical evaluation
  • O deficiency
  • Prone position
  • Rebreathing
  • Respiratory simulation
  • Sudden death in infancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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