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American Medical Association Finds Biological Based SIDS Link

A recent finding by a team of researchers led by Dr. Hannah Kinney of Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital at Boston links biology to SIDS risk. Kinney and colleagues examined tissue from the brains of deceased babies who died of SIDS and other causes. The study revealed that serotonin levels from the brains of SIDS related deaths were 26% lower than tissue found in brains of deaths unrelated to SIDS. The study also found low levels of the enzyme trytophan hydroxylase in the brains of infants who died of SIDS.
The medulla regulates basic bodily functions regarding body temperature, breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. Researchers believe that this specific part of the brain leaves a newborn vulnerable to SIDS related death especially when combined with external stressors, like lying face down to sleep, too warm room temperatures, and the presence of pillows. The findings by Kinney reveals that some newborns lack the "intrinsic" ability to respond to stressors by changing position or moving his or her head to the side. Kinney reported that her "research suggests that sleep unmasks the brain defect" in the medulla.
SIDS claims the lives of more than 2,300 babies before their first birthday. Any research to prevent or better understand SIDS is time well spent.

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