Curtain cords and accidental childhood hanging

Roger W Byard
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02465.x
Published online: 6 April 2009

To the Editor: Accidental asphyxia in very young children is an ongoing problem caused by hazardous sleeping environments and toddlers’ inability to understand dangers or to physically extricate themselves once entrapped. Two common problems involve children becoming wedged between mattresses and cot sides or walls, and hanging from clothing caught on projections inside cots.1 Autopsy in such cases requires careful death scene evaluation to prevent confusion with sudden infant death syndrome and to identify any evidence of inflicted injury, if present. National legislation requiring both new and second-hand cots to meet Australian safety standards has reduced the numbers of unsafe cots on the market.

  • University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.


  • 1. Byard RW. Accidental childhood death and the role of the pathologist. Pediatr Dev Pathol 2000; 3: 405-418.
  • 2. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Blind and curtain cords, safety alert. 16 Oct 2007. (accessed Dec 2008).
  • 3. Schapel AE, Deputy State Coroner. Finding of Inquest. No. 39/2008. Adelaide: Coroner’s Court of South Australia, 15 Dec 2008.
  • 4. Congiu M, Cassell E, Clapperton A. Unintentional asphyxia (choking, suffocation and strangulation) in children aged 0–14 years. Hazard Winter 2005; 60. (accessed Feb 2008).


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