Brain Abnormality May be cause of SIDS
NIH-supported researchers find abnormality in brain area influencing breathing, heart functions in Babies who died form SIDS –
More than 40 percent of infants in a group who died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) were found to have an abnormality in a key part of the brain, the hippocampus. researchers report. The hippocampus influences breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, via its neurological connections to the brainstem. According to the researchers, supported by the National Institutes of Health, the abnormality was present more often in infants who died of SIDS than in infants whose deaths could be attributed to known causes.
The researchers believe the abnormality may destabilize the brain’s control of breathing and heart rate patterns during sleep, or during the periodic brief arousals from sleep that occur throughout the night.
The new finding adds to a growing body of evidence that brain abnormalities may underlie many cases of sudden infant death syndrome, said Marian Willinger, Ph.D, special assistant for SIDS at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study. The hope is that research efforts in this area eventually will provide the means to identify vulnerable infants so that we’ll be able to reduce their risk for SIDS.
SIDS is the sudden death of an infant younger than 1 year of age that is still unexplained after a complete post mortem investigation by a coroner or medical examiner. This investigation includes an autopsy, a review of the death scene, and review of family and medical histories. In the United States, SIDS is the leading cause of death between one month and one year of age. The deaths are associated with an infant’s sleep period.
The study was published online in Acta Neuropathologica and conducted by Hannah C. Kinney, M.D., and colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office in San Diego, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
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