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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

ACTS OP  COMMISSION                                            355

the umbilical arteries, but it may sometimes be so profuse as to cause the
death of the child.

Precipitate labour is possible in multiparae with large roomy pelves, but
is extremely rare in primiparae, but pseudo-precipitate labour may be
possible, when there has already 'been some dilatation of the cervix. In such
a case the woman may get labour pains, but may not realize their signifi-
cance and may not know that the birth was imminent. Rensha15 reports
the case of a young primiparous woman who, telling her mother that she
was feeling queer, stepped across the room and leaned on the mantel shelf,
when without warning the child fell on the floor rupturing the cord, and
almost immediately the placenta was expelled.

In connection with precipitate labour it will not be out of place to
mention that the plea of unconscious delivery is sometimes raised in cases
of infanticide ; hence the medical jurist should bear in mind the possibility
of such an event in certain conditions. There is no doubt that unconscious
delivery may take place, when a woman is under the influence of a narcotic
or intoxicating drug, or suffering from syncope, asphyxia, apoplexy, coma,
delirium or eclamptic convulsions. Cases are also recorded, where women
have been delivered unconsciously during profound sleep and hysterical fits.
But these conditions should be such as to bring on deep lethargy and com-
plete loss of sensation, or else the uterine pains of the expulsive stage of
labour are likely to arouse the woman, especially if she happens to be a
primipara. On the other hand, an easy and rapid delivery without any
painful contractions is likely to occur in multiparous women who have
roomy pelves and soft relaxed parts, especially if the foetus is small

These may be 

A. _ The acts of commission, e.g. the use of mechanical violence and


B.   The acts of omission or neglect.


Mechajttical Violence.  l^^&uffocation.  This is the commonest form of
infanSSde. Aj^ssdy-born infant is easily suffocated by pressing the face
into some softmaterial, such as a pillow or bed cloth, or by closing the
mouth and nostrils by a towel, handkerchief or some other cloth or by the
hand. The mother may suffocate her child by intentionally overlying it,
or by forcing mud, rag, or cotton-wool into its mouth and throat. In one
case I found a piece of white, blood-stained cloth, 13" long and 6" broad,
stuffed into the throat and blocking the upper opening of the air passage.
In another case a strip of a gunny bag, ID" X 5" was found blocking the
larynx. Thg^other may sometimes force her finger into the mouth of the
child to prevent it from crying after birth and thus suffocate it to death, In
such a case scratches or lacerations may be found about the mouth, tongue
and throat. . During the post-mortem examination of the body of a newly-
born infant the mouth and throat should be examined for the presence of
some foreign matter which, if detected, should be preserved, and sent in a
sealed packet to the Superintendent of Police. The^ nose, lips and angles oi
the mouth should also be examined for the presence of bruising or

It should be remembered that infants are sometimes suffocated %>
"              on the chest.   Thus, in a case of infanticide I found

15.   Brit. Med Jour., March 31, 1905, p. 777 ; see also A. Burn, Brit. J$Fe$(
1, 1928, p. 120 and Alfred A. Masser, Brit Wed. Jour., Jan. 28, 112S, & m