SIDS May Be Triggered off by Lack of Serotonin

SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, carries away 2,300 lives of babies only a few months after their birth. Scientists are incessant in their attempts to work out ways of picking out infants with a high SIDS risk and means of suppressing the syndrome.

Baby Sleeping

A new study on the processes behind SIDS published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals the interrelations between a high SIDS risk and a low level of a neurochemical known as serotonin in the brain. Serotonin regulates breathing and heart rate during sleep, the period when children are threatened by SIDS most. A change in the serotonin level may influence the breathing to a fairly great extent, which can be especially serious when an infant falls asleep face down and is likely to breathe in most of the carbon dioxide he or she exhales.

Therefore one of the most effective ways to ward off SIDS is to see that the child goes to sleep face up, reminds Alan Guttmacher, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Infants who died of SIDS also show a low level of the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase, a brain chemical involved in the production of serotonin.

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