Wednesday, November 01, 2006

SIDS is a controvercial and sensitive issue.  In Canada, bumper pads are strongly discouraged, as are blankets, due to the risk of suffocation.  There is a growing body of evidence that biology has a lot to do with SIDS in many cases.

A study published today by the  NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development indicates that certain brain abnormalities are present in infants who die of SIDS.  The research stress the importance of eliminating environemtal hazards such as second-hand smoke and suffocation risks.

The study only looked at 41 infants in all.  The overall rates of SIDS are low (144 in Canada in 1999 - 0.54 per 1000 births) and have decreased significantly in the past 15 years.  This is consistent with the increased public awareness campaigns.

Infants who die of sudden infant death syndrome
have abnormalities in the brainstem, a part of the brain that helps
control heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, temperature and arousal,
report researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. The
finding is the strongest evidence to date suggesting that innate
differences in a specific part of the brain may place some infants at
increased risk for SIDS

Infants who died from SIDS had significantly
more serotonergic neurons (neurons that make and release serotonin) in
their brainstem as compared with controls, particularly in the area
known as the midline raph�� nucleus (blue dots). (Image courtesy David
Paterson, Ph.D., Children's Hospital Boston.

Read more (ScienceDirect)

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