SEOUL, Dec. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — Forensic doctors on Monday conducted autopsies on the bodies of four newborns who successively died at a local university hospital, but failed to find a cause of death after an initial exam.
The prematurely born babies were in incubators at the intensive care unit for newborns at Ewha Womans University Medical Center in Mokdong, western Seoul, when they died between 9:31 p.m. and 10:53 p.m. on Saturday, police said.
“The causes of death cannot be determined through an interim post-mortem examinations,” the National Forensic Service (NFS) said in a press release. “The cause can only be determined after conducting various tests such as looking at tissue through microscope.”
Families said the babies all had bloated bellies and difficulty breathing before their deaths.
Earlier on Monday, forensic doctors oft the NFS began postmortems on the bodies. The examinations had been scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. but were delayed by a few hours as it took more time to review medical records and interview family members.
The bodies were examined in the order the babies received CPR treatment, officials said.
Five doctors were assigned to the case, with three of them jointly examining the bodies one by one and the two others continuing to review medical records, said Yang Kyoung-moo, chief of the forensic medical team at the NFS Seoul Institute.
“As it’s been well known, we have a shortage of forensic doctors. But we assigned as many doctors to the case as possible because this is a case shocking to the medical society, and there is a high interest among the people,” Yang said.
Possible causes could include viral or bacterial infections, malfunctioning incubators or medical malpractice. Earlier, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that bacterial infections could have caused the deaths, citing results of blood culture tests conducted before the babies died.