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Abnormalities of the rib growth plate and the periphysis of previously healthy infants and toddlers dying suddenly and unexpectedly


Aims Histological examination of the rib is of critical value in perinatal pathology and points to the health of the child preceding death. The rib is considered ideal because it is the most rapidly growing long bone in infants and demonstrates growth arrest at onset of the insult. We aimed to identify: (1) changes in the perichondrial ring (PR) in the rib of infants and children up to 16 months of age dying suddenly at our institution and (2) any association with presence of histological changes of vitamin D deficiency (VDD)/metabolic bone disease (MBD) in the growth plate.

Methods Retrospective review of the PR histology and comparison with the presence or absence of histological features of VDD in the growth plate of 167 cases. The cases were anonymised and divided in six age/gender categories.

Results Periphyseal abnormalities were only seen in 38% of the cases; of whom 33% had established and 67% had mild changes. Only 14.5% of cases with established histological appearance of VDD at the growth plate had significant PR abnormality; of whom majority (83%) were ≤3 months of age and none ≥9 months old, reflecting a temporal relation with birth and beyond the perinatal period.

Conclusion The histological changes in the PR are significantly associated with histological changes of VDD/MBD at the rib growth plate with an OR of 3.04.

  • bone and bones
  • vitamin D
  • autopsy

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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