Lactic Acid Concentrations in Vitreous Humor:
Their Use in Asphyxial Deaths in Children

Sturner WQ, Sullivan A, Suzuki K. Lactic Acid Concentrations in Vitreous Humor:
Their Use in Asphyxial Deaths in Children. J Forensic Sci 1983;28(1): 222-230.


Lactic acid concentrations in brain tissue of humans have been shown to increase with an extended agonal period. Infants and children dying from various causes are undergoing different stress conditions terminally and the postulate of this study is that natural death cases and traumatic asphyxia cases are characterized by varying agonal periods, the former being somewhat prolonged with the latter being rather brief.

One-hundred-and-two cases of infants and children were examined for vitreous humor lactic acid concentrations. They were divided into two major categories, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and non-SIDS cases.

SIDS was further divided into SIDS without additional findings and SIDS with secondary findings which contributed to death. The non-SIDS category included traumatic asphyxia cases as well as those dying from blunt trauma, known respiratory diseases, and other causes.

Categorical mean values and standard deviations were calculated. The vitreous humor lactic acid mean value for traumatic asphyxia was significantly lower than the mean value for SIDS. Also the mean value for known respiratory diseases was statistically lower than the mean value for SIDS with secondary findings. These findings are probably suggestive of agonal time differences and may be a reflection of the various mechanisms of death.

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