New Clues In Infants Death - SIDS

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  1. #1 Feb 3, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
    U.S. researchers find new clue to infant deaths

    By Reuters - Tue Feb 2, 3:07 PM PST

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - Babies who die from sudden infant death syndrome make low amounts of the message-carrying brain chemical serotonin needed to regulate sleep, breathing and heart rate, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

    The finding, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, may help identify babies at risk for SIDS, which each year kills more than 2,300 babies before their first birthday.
    They said abnormal levels of serotonin may hamper an infant's breathing, especially in challenging situations, such as breathing in too much exhaled carbon dioxide while sleeping face down.
    "We have known for many years that placing infants to sleep on their backs is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of SIDS," Dr. Alan Guttmacher, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study.
    "The current findings provide important clues to the biological basis of SIDS and may ultimately lead to ways to identify infants most at risk as well as additional strategies for reducing the risk of SIDS for all infants," Guttmacher said in a statement.
    In the study, Dr. Hannah Kinney of Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston and colleagues examined brain tissue from babies who died from SIDS and from other causes.
    The tissue came from the medulla, a region at the base of the brain that regulates basic functions such as body temperature, breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.
    Kinney's team found that serotonin levels were 26 percent lower in tissue from babies who died of SIDS than those who died from other causes, and they also found low levels of the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase, which is needed to make serotonin.
    The findings suggest that some babies have an underlying vulnerability to SIDS, which can become fatal when combined with an external stress such as sleeping face down, especially when it occurs within the first year of life.
    "Our research suggests that sleep unmasks the brain defect," Kinney said in a statement.
    "When the infant is breathing in the face-down position, he or she may not get enough oxygen. An infant with a normal brain stem would turn his or her head and wake up in response. But a baby with an intrinsic abnormality is unable to respond to the stressor."
    The team hopes the study will lead to a test that measures a baby's serotonin levels, making it possible to identify children at highest risk for SIDS.
    Rates of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as cot death or crib death, have plummeted in countries where health workers have counseled parents and caregivers to put infants on their backs to sleep, to avoid keeping rooms too warm and to keep loose blankets and pillows away from infants.
    (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

  2. Very interesting. Thanks for posting.
  3. Thank you for posting this!
  4. Thank you for posting... this is seriously such a major fear for me, I just can't imagine losing your baby.
  5. #5 Feb 4, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2010
    Thanks for posting! I'm also very afraid of this so I try to take all precautionary measures I can.

    One thing I notice is in many parts of Europe (where I live), we use sleeping sacks for babies that you zip around the body and button on the shoulders instead of blankets. This is really good so the baby doesn't accidentally get covered with the blanket. Where I grew up in Asia, people mostly use blankets, I think in the US too (correct me if this is not the case).
  6. we [my family] use sleep sacks and blankets. i am guilty of letting all my children sleep on their stomachs because that is the only way that they would sleep. they would scream and cry and fight to be on their tummies. we of course always checked on them to make sure they weren't in a corner of the bed or their noses weren't against the mattress. it's still scary!! even now that k-kay is almost 9mths old i am checking on her while she naps to make sure that she is breathing.

    i also found the article very interesting.
  7. i'm in the US and i use Halo sleep sacks ( that sounds similar to what are u describing..there are no buttons on shoulders but it zips up, so it's like a wearable blanket and there's a part that velcros on. i either use this or an Aden & Anais swaddling blanket (made of light, breathable material).

    and yeah, my baby loves sleeping on his tummy but b/c of sids we always put him to sleep on his back. if he's really fussy we let him be on his tummy for a little bit lying on me or DH while either of us is sitting back in a recliner (and we are awake watching him). usually he falls alseep like that and then we put him on his back in the basssinet/crib
  8. Thank you for posting the article! I have also heard that many SIDS deaths are suspected to be related to Munchausen by Proxy, which is also interesting (and probably very true!).

    I have just tried not to get too wrapped up in worrying about SIDS. We have a fan in DS's room, and he doesn't sleep with much in his crib. At around 4 months, he started sleeping better with a panda beanie baby, so he has that now, as well as one of the little lovey blankets. I also had the bumpers out when he was tiny, but then he started getting stuck with his arms and legs between the bars, so I put them back. He often falls asleep now with the panda in his arm and his head on the satiny part of the blankie. Before that, though, we put him in PJs with feet, and when he needed extra warmth, we'd use one of the fleece PJ things that zips with the sack bottom. I still don't put a blanket in his crib that's big enough to cover him up - just little ones.

    He, too, likes to sleep on his tummy. I used to let him nap on his tummy a lot, because I could check on him more often, and then would put him on his back to sleep. Now at 5 1/2 months, he rolls over to his tummy, with his little butt in the air, almost immediately when we put him down.

    The scariest thing for me was the first few times he slept for more than 4 or 5 hours at a time - I was very nervous that I hadn't heard from him!
  9. ^^ yeah that is k-kay too...she is on her tummy with her booty in the air. we lay her down on her back and with her lil dolly...she is usually in footed jammies, so she has no need for a blanket.

    the one thing that really worries me for other reasons is that she will fall asleep sitting up and then she falls forward. so she is folded completely in half. so i always have to go check on her after she gets quite to make sure she is safe and sound :smile:
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