Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Is Considered Part of a Medical Disease Process Caused from a Brain Development Disorder

A study, which appeared last year in the November 1 2007 Journal of the American Medical Association, provided more convincing evidence that a majority of SIDS babies have a brain disorder. The abnormality findings suggest that “there is a problem in the development of the brain that occurs in utero and after birth as well. According to Dr. Hannah Kinney, senior author of the paper, “this opens the window of time available for identifying infants at high risk and provides the opportunity to use drugs and other interventions as the baby passes through the critical first six months of life where the risk for SIDS is the greatest. My hope is that this research will in some way ease the pain for parents of SIDS victims, helping them understand that their baby’s death was part of a disease process rather than a mystery,” says Kinney.”

The abnormalities identified within this study appear “to affect the brainstem's ability to use and recycle serotonin, a brain chemical which plays a major role in communications between brain cells. Serotonin is most well known for its role in regulating mood, but it also plays a role in regulating vital functions like breathing, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and arousal. While the SIDS cases contained more serotonin using neurons, they appeared to contain fewer receptors for serotonin than did the control cases.” Evidence was also found that male SIDS infants had fewer serotonin receptors than either of the female SIDS infants or control infants. These findings may provide insight into why SIDS affects roughly twice as many males as females.

This finding lends credibility to the observation that “SIDS risk may greatly increase when an underlying predisposition combined with an environmental risk—such as sleeping face down— at a developmentally sensitive time in early life,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The majority (65 percent) of the SIDS cases in the data set were sleeping prone or on their side and 23 percent were sharing a bed at the time of death, indicating the need for continued public health messages on safe sleep practices.

This important addition to ongoing brainstem research gives us renewed hope that medical researchers are on the right path to eliminating SIDS as a cause of death for our children, our future generations, and all the more reason to support vital research.

It is important to REMEMBER that although medical research is doing it's best to find a cure, a silent killer called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, (SIDS) still strikes at least six infants a day somewhere within our nation. It is not the caregivers fault. There is absolutely nothing the caregiver could have done to stop their baby’s body from shutting down.

For more information about SIDS and how you can support ongoing research contact First Candle.org

SIDS Facts can be found here

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel Of A Book.com