Research on SIDS

Hormone Deficiency Could Cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

By SACHA PFEIFFER, WBUR 90.9, Boston, Massachusetts 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death for babies between one month and 12 months old. But why some infants who seem totally healthy suddenly die in their sleep has mystified researchers for years. Now, a new study out of Children’s Hospital Boston finds a possible reason.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome seems like a bolt out of nowhere. A happy, active baby falls asleep and just doesn’t wake up.

But Dr. Hannah Kinney, a neuropathologist at Children’s Hospital, led a group of researchers who studied the brain stems of babies who had died of SIDS and found something striking: they had abnormally low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate breathing, heart rate and blood pressure during sleep.

New Clue Into Cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

By BEA KARNES, News First 5, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death for babies under a year old with most SIDS deaths occurring between the ages of 2 and 4 months.

The deaths come without warning, and for a long time without any known cause. Parents these days are told to put their newborn babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk for SIDS. The "Back To Sleep" campaign has been successful, reducing the number of crib deaths by about half since it began in the early 90's.

Still, thousands of seemingly healthy babies die in their sleep each year.

"You cannot tell a living baby is going to die of SIDS that night. There's no marker," said Dr. Hannah Kinney of Children's Hospital Boston.

But now doctors at Children's Hospital Boston have uncovered a big clue leading them to a likely cause for SIDS.

"We've come to focus on serotonin," said Dr. Kinney.