CASE OF ALAN YURKO
A report by Archie Kalokerinos, MD
RMB 218ZA Bournes Lane
Tamworth, NSW, 2340, Australia
Ph. 011 61 2 67608166
Fax. 015 61 2 67608344
Part 1……….A simplified study of the medical issues
Part 2……….How I became involved in this complex problem and an explanation why understanding is so difficult
Part 3……… The pathologies of so-called "shaken babies"
Part 4……….The autopsy
Part 6………..Clinical history of Baby Alan
Part 7………..The autopsy report3
Part 8………..Specific disorders requiring discussion [Missing and on request--ed]
THE CASE OF ALAN YURKO
PART 1 - A SIMPLIFIED STUDY OF THE MEDICAL ISSUES
This part of the study does not include references because I consider that to add these, at this stage, would make understanding difficult. However, throughout the body of the report, references are quoted in detail
understand the complex medical issues involved
in this case necessitates knowledge concerning
several extremely involved issues:
C (also known as ascorbic acid, or ascorbate)
is small molecule with a formula of C6H6O8.
Its unique chemical properties are responsible
for its use, by
Humans cannot live without obtaining supplies of Vitamin C in food. This is because, in common with only a few other species, humans do not have, built in to their biochemistry, the mechanism that allows for the synthesis of Vitamin C
Problems, in humans can arise when supplies of Vitamin C are insufficient for needs. This can occur when intakes are low, or when utilization is high. Individual humans, at various times, may need much more Vitamin C than others. This variation in utilization can, at times, reach a figure of 1,000 times more than the average.
But the problem does not stop there. There is a limit to the amount of Vitamin C that can be absorbed by the human intestine. This means that it is impossible, by consuming Vitamin C by mouth, to attain blood levels of Vitamin C that exceed a certain figure. Unfortunately, there are disease states that can be dealt with only when blood levels of Vitamin C are much higher than levels reached when Vitamin C is taken by mouth. Under these conditions, in order to achieve therapeutic blood levels, one must administer Vitamin C, in large amounts, by injection - either intramuscularly, or intravenously, depending on how rapid an effect must be, or how high the blood levels must be.
Vitamin C takes part in so many reactions, and its use in medicine is so extremely wide and varied, that it is difficult to draw just a few reactions out of the hat and not become involved in lengthy discussions on interrelationships with a vast host of important allied reactions. However, the following list provides the basis of understanding.
C is involved in:
viral and bacterial, play an important role
in this. Several mechanisms are involved.
question that arises is, why do some infants
suffer from these problems and others do not?
This is answered in the body of the report.
Free radical reactions
radicals are atoms, or molecules (atoms joined
together), that are extremely reactive chemically,
and extremely toxic, because they have what
are known as unpaired electrons.
A free radical, on the other hand, has an odd number of electrons, with a single unpaired electron in an outer orbit. It is this unpaired electron that is responsible for the instability and chemical reactivity characteristic of all free radicals. Simply by gaining or loosing an electron, any nonradical compound can be converted to a free radical form and thereby undergo dramatic changes in its physical and chemical properties.
initiated, free radicals tend to propagate,
by taking part in chain reactions with other,
usually less reactive compounds. These chain
reactions have longer half-lives and, therefore,
extended potential for cell damage. Thus the
toxicity of a single radical species may be
amplified in subsequent reactions.
The initiation and control of free radicals by free radical scavengers (also known as 'antioxidants') is, therefore, necessary for health and life. It so happens that Vitamin C plays a critical role (as an antioxidant) in the initial control of free radical reactions. Thus, a deficiency of Vitamin C, through any cause (dietary deficiency or excessive utilization) can have rapid and alarming effects. In the brain, in particular, the control of free radical reactions is absolutely critical.
The speed by which brain tissue destruction can be initiated is extreme.. Unfortunately, often, when free radical reactions accelerate in the brain there is a rapid breakdown of brain tissue - and this includes the blood vessels. Under these conditions fresh supplies of Vitamin C, and other nutrients (even when these are available in the blood) cannot reach the damaged brain tissue and recovery may be impossible.
Bacteria produce two types of toxins - exotoxins excreted actively by the organisms, and endotoxin, which normally resides in the walls of so-called 'Gram-negative' bacteria (named because of the staining characteristics). The most common Gram-negative organism is E.coli, which normally inhabits the gut.
Endotoxin is required, as a normal part of the relationship between humans and bacteria, for health. However, under some conditions endotoxin is produced in excessive amounts. These are documented in the body of this report. When this happens the endotoxin, is absorbed through the wall of the intestine (where it can do some damage) and is then carried in the blood stream to the liver where, normally, it is detoxified. However, if the liver detoxification systems are inadequate, some liver damage may occur and a quantity of endotoxin reaches the general circulation. What happens then depends on a variety of conditions.
There may be shock ('endotoxic' shock). There may be disturbances in coagulation/bleeding factors (coagulation problems and/or hemorrhages) excessive utilization of Vitamin C, scurvy bone changes, organ failure, and many others.
The stage is set, therefore, for what are apparently widely different pathologies - hemorrhages, bone changes, shock and others. Sometimes, one pathology may appear to dominate. Sometimes there are multiple pathologies occurring at the same time.
When one form of endotoxin (or toxin) is present alone there may not be, an apparent disease process. When two or more types of endotoxin (or toxin) are introduced together, the effects are multiplied enormously. That is; doses that would normally not cause much damage may be fatal. This, classically, occurs when endotoxin is present because of an infection and another type of endotoxin is introduced in a vaccine.
still is the fact that a sudden extreme sensitivity
to endotoxin can occur - somewhat like an
extreme allergic response. Under these conditions
a previously tolerated dose of endotoxin may
To add to this rapid onset of problems it is necessary to realize that endotoxin has an extremely rapid action. So, the combination of Vitamin C deficiency and endotoxemia can result in an extraordinarily rapid and dramatic onset of symptoms - even death.
Vitamin C can detoxify endotoxin. Sometimes, to obtain a worthwhile clinical result, it may be necessary to administer Vitamin C intravenously in big doses.
If the pathology is far advanced, or if a patient's immune responses are extremely poor (as in the terminal stagers of AIDS), then Vitamin C may not function effectively.
Also, as already discussed, particularly in the brain, endotoxin can disturb blood circulation and prevent Vitamin C reaching the damaged tissues.
factors can result in excessive endotoxin
What to look for when investigating a 'Shaken Baby' case.
Signs of an increased utilization of vitamin
C (including signs of scurvy and scurvy bone
Only by doing this can a logical, and just, verdict - guilty or innocent - result.
2 - HOW I BECAME INVOLVED IN THIS COMPLEX
Complete understanding is impossible This is because of the extreme complexity of the medical issues involved. To be able to firmly and logically withstand questioning in court, when faced with 'experts' in various fields, one would need to have ten times the power of Einstein and be an expert (and I mean, a 'real' expert) in every branch of science, chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, bacteriology, virology, immunology, radiology, forensic medicine, and whatever. Such a person does not exist. It is important, therefore, that I explain how I became involved in the issue of 'shaken babies', and why I do not accept the views held by a vast proportion of medical authorities.
It began because I made some clinical observations (note that the word is 'observations') that needed to be explained.These observations involved sudden unexpected deaths, sudden unexpected unconsciousness, and sudden unexpected shock, in infants that were either apparently previously well or suffering from a 'trivial' complaint (such as a mild upper respiratory tract infection). Autopsies failed to offer a satisfactory explanation
I found, first, that, provided I began treatment early, I could reverse sudden unexplained unconsciousness, and sudden unexplained shock (remember that I am not discussing infants with conditions such as meningitis) by administering huge amounts of vitamin C by injection. An important detail was that, previous to the sudden collapse, all infants had been supplemented with more than the recommended daily allowances of vitamin C. Something, obviously, was responding to vitamin C, administered by injection, when it would not respond to orally administered vitamin C. And the response was, indeed, dramatic in its rapidity.
Publicity, surrounding my work, eventually brought me into contact with an American research veterinarian (Robert Reisinger, from Baltimore) who introduced me to endotoxin. Endotoxin is a toxin produced by certain types of bacteria. It is necessary for survival of the organisms, and to an extent, for the survival of the bacterial hosts (for example; humans). Sometimes, however, excessive amounts of endotoxin can be produced and this can lead to 'toxic' disease states, or death. There was no doubt that vitamin C, when used in big doses, and administered by injection, 'detoxified' endotoxin. And that was the reason for its extremely rapid action.
major advance in understanding came when a
microbiologist colleague in Australia (Dr
Glen Dettman) gave me a copy of a book (Scurvy
Past and Present) written by Professor Hess,
in America, in 1920. Many of the references
in this report come directly from this book.
However, when Hess wrote his book, little
was known about endotoxin. Furthermore the
main method of production of endotoxin, in
the body, has been changed because of:
is, because it is likely to be mixed with
endotoxemia, not a good word to use. It is,
with modern knowledge, not a specific disease.
PART 3 - THE PATHOLOGIES OF SO-CALLED "SHAKEN BABIES"
are two pathologies (abnormalities) that are
regarded as 'typical' of the shaken baby syndrome.
Other pathologies may be present but the two
outstanding ones are:
hemorrhages and fractures may be caused by
is usually possible, while investigating a
'shaken baby' case to determine, in a reasonable
fashion, the pathway that ends in hemorrhages
factors contribute to this cascade. These
Vitamin C is utilized while attempting to 'detoxify' endotoxin.
A second factor that may play a role in some cases, involves a sudden sensitivity to endotoxin.
bones there are two types of changes that
can be mistaken for fractures. The first involves
the surface of long bones.
In scurvy, the periostium can become detached, to a degree, over a variable area of bone surface. Blood accumulates under the detached periostium. If the patient survives, the collection of blood slowly ossifies. That is; it turns into bone.
This is the same mechanism that nature employs to heal fractures. Initially, there is a collection of blood around the fracture site. Then this gradually changes to bone and the fracture is united.
X-rays, taken during the healing process of the type of scurvy bone lesion under discussion, look like fractures, and during the healing process, look like healing fractures.
These scurvy bone changes may occur in one bone, or more than one bone. Furthermore the lesions may appear at different times so the appearance, on X-rays, is like that of multiple fractures of different ages. Thus accusations are made of multiple acts of traumatic abuse - or 'battering'.
second type of scurvy bone change is found
at the ends of bones where there are (in infants
and children) growing plates known as 'epiphyseal
plates'. In scurvy cases changes can occur
in those areas- particularly where the front
of a rib joins the breast-bone - the so-called
'costochondral junction'. This, mostly, appears
as a swelling (known as 'beading'). Beading
can occur in other conditions, such as rickets
(Vitamin D deficiency) but the nature of beading
is different to what is found in scurvy.
caused by scurvy
is important to know four facts -
the causes of the pathologies enables one
to understand why coagulation/bleeding disturbances,
and bone changes (the so-called 'fractures)
are often associated together.
PART 4 - A SUMMARY OF THE CASE
This part of the report is without references - a strategy that is deliberate because a long list of references can be confusing to anyone who is unfamiliar with medical terminology and details. However, the detailed report, that follows, includes the necessary references.
was Francine's second pregnancy. It was complicated
by oligohydramnios (insufficient amniotic
fluid that surrounds the fetus in the uterus).
At the same time there was gestational (pregnancy
Because of nausea Francine did not take the usual vitamin supplements. This, in the presence of the problems listed above, increased the chances of disturbances initiated by insufficient supplies of antioxidants - including Vitamin C.
the 35-week stage, because of some of the
problems just listed, the pregnancy was induced.
were marked respiratory problems. Reasons
for this, particularly in view of what happened
later, were not satisfactorily explained.
While breast-feeding Baby Alan Francine was given more antibiotics. These are excreted into breast milk and can add to the production of endotoxin.
Respiratory problems, with Baby Alan, were never totally resolved. The nature of these was never clearly determined.
This concentration on endotoxin production is not just supposition. Baby Alan was never a 'well baby'. His clinical status, at all times, is certainly consistent with the excessive production of endotoxin. This view is reinforced with what happened later, the final collapse, and what was found during the autopsy and the microscope examinations of some tissues.
At the age of 8 weeks (3 weeks past the normal gestational age, because the birth was induced early) 6 vaccines were administered. No warning was given to Francine about certain adverse reaction that can follow the administration of vaccines. This is an issue that is difficult to understand because, for example, with a surgical procedure, a surgeon is obliged to warn about the possibility of even very rare complications.
One of the vaccines was for Hepatitis B. It is known that, sometimes, central retinal vein (the vein in the center of the retina) can become blocked by a thrombus- which is a coagulation/bleeding disorder. This simply illustrates the fact that these disorders can, and do, occur.
Immediately after the vaccines were administered Francine noticed that Baby Alan had a fever, which was followed by feeding/sleeping problems, diarrhea and lethargy. A high-pitched cry developed two days before the final collapse. All this is not consistent with shaking. It is consistent with serious intracranial pathology - including intracranial hemorrhage.
It is necessary, at this stage, to realize that serious intracranial pathology can exist and an examination, even by a trained neurologist, may not reveal an abnormality.
Baby Alan continued to be 'unwell'.
On November 24, while under the care of Mr. Yurko Baby Alan began to 'wheeze'. This was more like 'gasping' for air, with retraction of the chest. Then he stopped breathing. From the time of the collapse to revival in the emergency room there was, apparently, a period of 5 minutes when he did not breathe.
This could be sufficient time for the development of irreversible brain damage. During that time free radical reaction commence and accelerate. Particularly when there is endotoxemia, the brain circulation (almost entirely, or in part) ceases. Oxygen, glucose, and Vitamin C cannot reach the brain, so the free radical reactions cannot be reversed.
The transport team, called to attend Baby Alan, noted one important feature. There was 'mottling' of the skin. Defined as 'various colors without a distinct pattern' this, although not totally diagnostic, I have often observed, can be caused by endotoxic shock.
Unfortunately, at this stage, a diagnosis of 'shaken baby' was made. This became totally ingrained. No attempt was made to consider a 'differential diagnosis' where all possible causes are considered, reasons offered for the exclusion of some, and the inclusion of others. Often, it is necessary to perform special investigations, including laboratory tests, in order to clarify the issue and not overlook any other particular causes.
In this case, very few tests were performed. This included a failure to consider the case history and carry out extensive coagulation/bleeding disorder tests. In this way the possible existence of information that may have been critical for the defense, was not available.
X-rays of the lungs revealed 'bilateral pulmonary infiltrates' that are patches in the lungs where the air spaces are filled with fluid. These cannot be caused by shaking alone, in the absence of lung damage - and there is no evidence of that.
There were, what were diagnosed as 'rib fractures'. These are consistent with 'scurvy bone changes'. This diagnosis was not considered, as it should have been during a proper process of 'differential diagnosis'.
At that stage intracranial and retinal hemorrhages were diagnosed. This, with the rib changes just noted, was sufficient, in the eyes of the doctors, for a diagnosis of one cause, and one cause only - shaking.
Once again, no attempt was made to consider a differential diagnosis. That is; causes for spontaneous bleeding and spontaneous (scurvy) fractures, were not considered. Nor were some difficult to explain features involved with head injuries occurring in infants.
A head injury, even a serious one, in an infant does not necessarily end in a cascade of abnormal reactions - and death. Recovery can sometimes take place to a remarkable extent.
Sometimes there may be a rapid series of, for example, free radical reactions, leading to brain tissue destruction, and death. However, sometimes, remarkable recoveries occur. Some reasons for this are known. One involves the presence or absence of a period of apnea. That is a period where breathing ceases
There are two classical causes for apnea. The first is respiratory arrest, where the lungs cannot supply oxygen to the blood. The second is cardiac arrest, where the blood cannot circulate to provide oxygen to the tissues - including the brain.
The brain is particularly dependant on a continuous supply of oxygen and other nutrients - including Vitamin C. Even a short period of anoxia can result in permanent and irreversible brain damage.
An indirect form of cerebral anoxia can occur when part of, or the whole, of the circulation to the brain is disturbed. One obvious cause for this is strangulation.
Sometimes, there may be a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain - or there may be a burst blood vessel (a hemorrhage) and this can have the same effect.
Therefore if, following a head injury, there is a period when cerebral circulation is disturbed, the outlook is more likely to be serious. This can accelerate free radical reactions that are involved in brain tissue destruction. This is one fairly well understood mechanism, and is one of the reasons for recovery or death. There are other reasons, some of which are not well understood.
Endotoxin can have a specific effect on blood vessels - particularly in the brain. It can damage the lining of blood vessels (known as the 'endothelium'). This allows the endotoxin to leak through to the brain tissue. At the same time this leakage can result in a cessation of the circulation in the area supplied by the endotoxin-induced leakage. This prevents nutrients, and antioxidants reaching the area involved. What follows is a rapid series of free radical reactions - and brain tissue death.
At the same time, blood vessel destruction can result in bleeding. Two other factors then enter into the cascade of abnormal reactions and brain tissue destruction.
First, parts of the brain are rich in iron. Normally, this is 'stored' in a carefully controlled manner because it so happens that free iron is extremely chemically reactive and a powerful initiator of free radical reactions. When endotoxin leaks through to the brain tissue some of this iron is 'released' - and powerful free radical reactions are initiated.
This further damages brain tissue - and hemorrhages can result. This could be regarded as one stage.
Then, after a variable period that can be hastened by endotoxin, red blood cells in the hemorrhagic areas break down (rupture) and release stores of iron and copper. If ever a system was designed to accelerate free radical reactions then this is it. So a secondary, even more powerful series of reactions enter into the cascade.
What this amounts to is this. If, for example, in a serious motor vehicle accident involving brain hemorrhage, no endotoxin or a period of anoxia exists, there is a chance that recovery may take place. On the other hand, if there is a period of anoxia, and particularly if endotoxin is involved, there may be a rapid cascade of free radical reactions and brain death.
Attempts have been made to break this chain of free radical reactions using antioxidants of various sorts (including Vitamin C) but results generally have been disappointing - probably (in part at least) because the cessation of brain circulation prevents antioxidants reaching the damaged areas.
while investigating an alleged shaken baby
case it is vital to know two facts:
As the main body of this report shows it is possible to estimate endotoxin levels in blood and cerebrospinal fluid during life. And there are special techniques that permit this to be done during an autopsy. Failure to do this denies the defense access to what could be vital evidence.
Why this was present to such a marked degree was never satisfactorily explained. Certainly. It was not due to blood loss in the various hemorrhages because the amount involved is insufficient, by far, to explain it. One explanation, that is compatible with the theme of scurvy that I have considered is that the cause, directly, is scurvy.
Early medical writers document severe cases of anemia in scurvy cases. These references are included in the detailed section of this report. They must not be ignored.
CONCLUSION AFTER CONSIDERING THE CASE HISTORY ALONE
Infections, leading to endotoxin formation, an increased utilization of Vitamin C, disturbances in coagulation/bleeding factors, scurvy type bone changes, and anemia
Any other diagnosis would need to consider all of the factors involved - and this cannot be done.
PART 5 - THE AUTOPSY
The autopsy is noteworthy not because of what was done and observed but for what was not done and observed. This was because, at an early stage in the investigation of this case, a diagnosis of shaking was made, ingrained, and, therefore, it was considered that nothing else needed to be considered or looked for.
This failure does not explain why some of the bruises/contusions were not observed before death. So one is left to assume the possibility - indeed, the probability, that some of these lesions made their appearance only after Baby Alan was admitted to hospital. This is not consistent with shaking, or abuse, before, admission to hospital.
issue may have been settled if a proper procedure
for the examination of such lesions had been
carried out - as documented in the main part
of this report. At the very least, some attempt
should have been made to do this. Once again,
this failure denies, to the defense, what
may have been vital information.
It must be remembered, here, that plain X-rays do not necessarily reveal reduced bone density. That is why special machines have been developed for this purpose.
subdural and other intracranial hemorrhages
(brain) edema and poor differentiation of
cortex and medulla
to perform microscope examinations of the
to perform a microscopic examination of the
to assess the levels of endotoxin in the liver
the failure to assess liver endotoxin levels,
and to provide information about what happened
to the donor liver are important issues.
Apparently, it has not been possible to obtain this information, which could be of considerable value to the defense.
cause of death - (according to Dr Kalokerinos)
PART 6 - CLINICAL HISTORY OF BABY ALAN
Date of birth: September 16, 1997. Second baby. Mother had gestational diabetes and labor was induced at 35 weeks because of oligohydramnios (reduced fluid surrounding the fetus). The nature of this was not clearly defined. There was no specific history of loss of amniotic fluid. Usually, with gestational diabetes, there is a degree of hydramnios (excessive fluid surrounding the fetus). Furthermore, with diabetes, the babies are usually large.
Therefore, there were two abnormal details here - the oligohydramnios, and the small baby. This suggests that there was present some problem not consistent with diabetes alone. It is possible that this was associated with an inflammatory process - as a reference shortly to be quoted states. The importance lies in what happened to the baby later. An inflammatory process may have set the stage for coagulation/bleeding disturbances, and the excessive utilization of Vitamin C..
There are several known 'causes' for oligohydramnios - placental insufficiency; preclampsia (once called toxemia of pregnancy), post-term pregnancy, and renal malfunctions. The amniotic fluid and blood of smokers is high in cadmium (a toxic element) and low in zinc (that tends to be 'protective). Furthermore smokers who have oligohydramnios have a considerably larger number of still births and babies with central nervous system disorders (Milnerowlez et al, Int j Occup Med Environ Health 2000;13(3):185-93.
Furthermore, oligohydramnios is associated with an inflammatory response in fetal, amniotic and maternal compartments - Yoon et al Am J Obstet Gynecol 1999 Oct;181(4):784-8. The significance of this, in this case, could be questioned, but it points to problems that could add to, or initiate, the disorders later found.
Diabetes (that is: a high blood sugar) interferes with the cellular uptake and utilization of Vitamin C. It is not possible to definitely associate this with what was to follow but, at the least, it had to be an added form of stress to the unborn baby. In addition, the mother had a urinary tract infection. And she was a smoker - another known risk factor. Francine smoked 3-5 cigarettes a day. She was told not to withdraw because this process could cause problems with the fetus. She was, apparently, not told about all the risks smoking subjected a fetus to.
At birth there were marked respiratory problems. Ampicillin and gentamycin were administered. These antibiotics can be lifesaving, and I am not going to state that they should not have been administered. But, sometimes, there is a price to pay for the benefits of their use. One is the overproduction of endotoxin. Another involves disturbances in gut flora, which also tends to result in an overproduction of endotoxin and disturbances in gut immunology. During the pregnancy Francine was also given antibiotics for urinary infections, and bronchitis. This, almost certainly, contributed to the overgrowth of abnormal gut organisms in Francine, including yeast, and the production of excessive amounts of endotoxin - that could have adverse effects on the fetus.
While breast-feeding Baby Alan, Francine was given more antibiotics, and this could contribute to gastrointestinal problems in Baby Alan - including to excessive endotoxin production.
Respiratory problems persisted for some days after birth. This never cleared to a satisfactory degree.
At the age of 8 weeks (which was only3 weeks past the normal gestational age) six vaccines were administered. Satisfactory counseling was not provided. For example, no warning was given about the rare, but well documented complication, central retinal vein thrombosis, that can follow the administration of Hepatitis B vaccine. This, obviously, is a coagulation disorder.
It is known that premature and infants with infections can suffer adverse responses to the administration of vaccines. There is some controversy about how severe an infection should be before vaccine administrations are delayed. But it is known that, even with a mild infection, risks are increased. Francine was not counselled about this, or provided with any information that would allow her to properly understand what risks were involved - particularly in view of the fact that not one but six vaccines were administered. With several factors that increase the risk of coagulation/bleeding disorders already present the addition of one more (hepatitis B vaccine) was obviously risky to an unacceptable degree.
Immediately after the vaccines were administered Francine noticed that Baby Alan had a fever, followed by feeding/sleeping problems, diarrhea, and lethargy. This worsened. A high-pitched cry followed for two days before the final collapse. All this is not consistent with shaking. It is consistent with a condition involving endotoxin, serious disturbances of many vital functions and, almost certainly, the onset of intracranial hemorrhages. It is necessary, here, to remind the court that quite substantial intracranial hemorrhages can exist and not be diagnosed, by a trained neurologist (see references later). Furthermore, there were 'regular' fever bouts from the time of birth to the time of death.
On November 24, while under the care of Mr.Yurko, the baby began to 'wheeze'. This was more like 'gasping' for air with retraction of the chest, and then Baby Alan stopped breathing. There was, apparently, up to 5 minutes of a degree of apnea - from the time of onset of the collapse to the emergency room 's successful revival.
This period of apnea, for 5 minutes, while the brain was denied oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients (including Vitamin C) is almost certainly critical. During that period free radical reactions can commence in the brain and, with the presence of endotoxin, the brain circulation can become irreversibly impaired. The result is a rapid cascade of free radical reactions. These cannot be reversed because the brain circulation (either locally or generally) is impaired and free radical scavengers (antioxidants, especially Vitamin C) cannot reach the site - nor can oxygen and glucose that must be always and immediately available for brain function.
The Transport Team, noted 'mottling' (defined as 'variability of coloring without distinct patterning') of the skin. Usually the skin, under those conditions, shows patches of paleness, redness and cyanosis. It is a sign of 'shock'. This may have various causes. One, I will never forget, because, in the days before I used Vitamin C injections, whenever I saw that in an infant who had suddenly collapsed for no recognized reason, no matter what I did, that infant would die. And autopsies failed to explain why. Now I know that one cause is endotoxemic shock. Several 'shaken baby' cases that I have investigated exhibited skin mottling during the initial phase of collapse. Endotoxin shock is caused by the excessive or uncontrolled production of endotoxin. Thus, anything that can cause endotoxemia can cause it. Shaking a baby will not cause endotoxic shock within minutes of the act of shaking..
There is, therefore, several reasons for concluding that the cause of the pathology found in Baby Alan was not shaking.
Tests revealed bilateral pulmonary infiltrates (patches where the air spaces in the lungs are filled with fluids of various types). These cannot be caused by shaking alone, unless ribs are fractured and during the fracture process the lungs are damaged. In such cases one would expect surface damage to the lungs. There was no such injury noted during the autopsy. Therefore, there must be another explanation for the infiltrates. Whatever it is, shaking was not responsible.
There were what was diagnosed as rib fractures, and subdural and cerebral hemorrhages.
Death occurred 75 hours after admission. This is consistent with a multitude of pathologies. It is certainly consistent with the 'endotoxin/Vitamin C/coagulation/bleeding disorders described above.
A head injury, in an infant, as a stand-alone factor does not necessarily result in death, even after (for example) a car accident with considerable brain damage and intracranial hemorrhages. What sometimes happens, following an accident with such injuries, is a series of free radical reactions leading to brain destruction. Death may then be inevitable. Often, the precipitating factor for brain tissue destruction is a period of apnea - respiratory or cardiac arrest. This allows the initiation of free radical reactions, and, if these reactions are not controlled by antioxidants etc., there will be rapid progress to brain death.
In some shaken baby cases it is assumed that shaking damages the brain in such a way that recovery cannot occur and free radical reactions are initiated. However, autopsies and microscope examinations do not always provide evidence for this. That is probably why, for example, in the Louise Sullivan (Australian Nanny), and other cases attempts were made to introduce an element of anoxia (lack of oxygen) - suffocation, even though the microscope reports clearly stated that the lungs were normal. That is; there was no evidence of suffocation.
Unfortunately, during Baby Alan's last few days of life, extensive coagulation/bleeding studies (beyond some standard profiles) were not performed. Nor were levels of endotoxin in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid carried out. Therefore, the possible existence of vital evidence was denied to the defendant.
It is apparent that, at an early stage, a diagnosis of 'shaken baby' was made and no effort was made to consider a 'differential diagnosis' where one considers the possible existence of factors responsible for the pathologies - apart from shaking. That is where the major error occurred. Further light will be cast on this aspect in the section dealing with the autopsy.
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