Research brief: Brainstem defect causes sudden infant death

An overproduction of serotonin in the brainstem may be the cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), US researchers have found.

They compared the brain tissue of 31 babies who had died from SIDS with 10 infants who died of other causes. SIDS cases had abnormalities in the nerve cells of the medulla oblongata that make and use serotonin. This helps coordinate BP, breathing, and sensitivity to CO2 during sleep (JAMA 2006; 296: 2,124–32).

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