SIDS has been a mystery for such a long time. Sudden infant death syndrome is diagnosis of death of babies within their first year of life that doctors find no particular cause of. There have been some speculations about possible risk factors like putting babies to sleep on their stomachs or sleeping with babies but nothing definite has been found until recently.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital Boston report that SIDS could actually have concrete biological basis. Abnormalities in the brainstem – a part of the brain that regulates breathing, blood pressure, body heat, and arousal have been found in babies who died from SIDS.

Biopsies of 31 infants who had died from SIDS showed abnormalities in nerve cells situated at the lowest part of the brainstem, known as the medulla oblongata. These nerve cells are in charge of serotonin production and usage. Serotonin is one out of 100 chemicals in the brain that transmit messages from one nerve cell to another.

Scientists are hoping that they will be able to develop diagnostic test and identify babies at risk as well as a drug to protect babies with these abnormalities.

This serotonin system from brainstem regulates breathing, blood pressure, sensitivity to carbon dioxide, and temperature during waking and sleep. When babies were put to sleep on their tummies they could be re-breathe exhaling carbon dioxide which could impair her respiratory system. A healthy baby would automatically wake up and turn the head but those babies with impaired serotonin system may not have these reflexes which could lead to death.

This is a very important finding that could help in stopping deaths of many innocent babies.