News / Health

Sudden Infant Death Tied to Brain Chemical

Sudden Infant Death Tied to Brain Chemical
Sudden Infant Death Tied to Brain Chemical

Multimedia

Carol Pearson

It is called crib death or SIDS which stands for sudden infant death syndrome.  Parents put a seemingly healthy infant to sleep and return to find the baby has stopped breathing. The causes remain a mystery, but new research suggests a chemical imbalance in babies' brains may provide a clue.

Nothing prepares a parent for what Marchand Lewis experienced three years ago.

"Picking your child up out of a crib who's passed away, I mean, she was lifeless, and heavy, and limp. So I absolutely knew," she recalled. "If there's anything lingering it's, 'Could we have done something.' That's always there."

But even when parents follow all the guidelines, putting their babies to sleep on their backs, removing blankets and stuffed animals from their cribs, infants still die without warning.  The latest research focuses on serotonin, a chemical in the brain.

"We found that the babies who died of SIDS had abnormalities in serotonin in regions of the brain stem that control breathing and heart rate and blood pressure during sleep," said Dr. Hanna Kinney of Children's Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Kinney and other researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston studied the brains of babies who died from SIDS and compared them to brains of babies who died of other causes.

"This is where we have found the major problems in SIDS.  Although we have looked at all levels of the brainstem, the major problems are here," Dr. Kinney added.

When a baby is put face down in a bed, it begins to re-breathe carbon dioxide, which is toxic.

"A normal baby could respond to that challenge, lift its head up, turn its head and arouse or wake up," explained Dr. Kinney.  "But a baby who has a defect in those brain stem circuits that use serotonin can't do that when challenged and they go on to die."

In studying babies' brains, the researchers found that babies who died of SIDS had 25 percent less serotonin and related chemicals than the babies who died of other causes.

At present, doctors cannot measure the amount of serotonin in a living baby's brain.  But researchers hope that one day they will be able to do that though a simple blood test, and prevent more deaths like Suzanna's.  The report is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid