Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Health: Australian-led study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome announce major breakthrough

FOCUS Information Agency - An Australian-led study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) on Wednesday announced a major breakthrough by confirming a lack of serotonin was the common factor with babies who die from the condition, Xinhua News Agency informed.

Researcher Dr. Jhodie Duncan, of the Melbourne-based Florey Neuroscience Institutes, studied cases of infant deaths from confirmed SIDS and other causes.

The SIDS babies were found to have lower levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which regulates the body's basic life-sustaining functions.

"Things like heart rate, blood pressure, sleep cycles, respiration, serotonin plays a very important role in all these things that you need to stay alive," Duncan said.

"Our study has proven that in infants dying of SIDS there is lower TPH2 (a related enzyme) levels and reduced serotonin production."

The research also provides a new insight into another of SIDS known risk factors -- women who smoke during pregnancy or smoking at home with a newborn.

Exposure to nicotine was also known to affect serotonin levels in the body, Duncan noted.
It is hoped the research could result in a new regime of testing, monitoring and treatment that could intervene to stop babies from dying of SIDS.

The findings offer a "much clearer direction" in the search for a cure for the mysterious syndrome, which still claims one in 2, 000 apparently healthy children.

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