Neonaticide represents a particular issue both to society and forensic field, being admitted nowadays as a crime all over the world. Apart from common gross and microscopic examination of the newborn cadaver, thorough examination of the umbilical cord during autopsy proved many times its major utility in solving neonaticide cases. Although by its constituents, the umbilical cord is a quite resistant structure to bending and compression, mechanical properties vary along its surface, with gestational age or various pregnancy disorders, as well as genetic anomalies of the fetus, so that a rupture may occur. The authors present the case of a newborn found dead in a sink – about whom mother states that he accidentally fell in the feces, the moment of the birth being a surprise – and discuss on the circumstances when the umbilical cord may rupture. This issue is most important when is a need to differentiate between a true accident and an intentional newborn homicide by the mother set forth as an accident.
Key- words: umbilical cord, tensile strength, forensic, neonaticide.
Neonaticide dates from ancient times, although it was not considered a crime since its beginning. In some people it was the practice to sacrifice the newborn as a tribute to their gods1 during various religious ceremonies2; the birth of a child with malformation was regarded as a punishment for the behavior
of their parents3, and the superstitious background enforced them to sacrifice the newborn1. The illegitimacy and the desire to control the number of the descendants were considered reasons to legalize
the neonaticide in Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome4.