On the Road to Solving SIDS
The cause of SIDS has long been a mystery, but researchers at Children's Hospital Boston are unraveling the clues. In the past few years, they've discovered that many SIDS victims have a defect in the part of the brain that controls the chemical serotonin. (Yes, the same serotonin that regulates mood.) In a healthy baby, it helps coordinate breathing, keeps temperature steady, and sends out a wake-up alert when it detects trouble. Babies at risk of SIDS have too few serotonin receptors and too little of a protein that controls the chemical's level in the brain, explains David Paterson, Ph.D., associate director of the hospital's Laboratory for SIDS Research. As the baby grows, it can overcome these problems, which explains why SIDS is no longer a danger after age 1. Dr. Paterson and his colleagues are trying to find a way to detect which infants are born with this defect and, ultimately, how to cure it.
Originally published in the January 2010 issue of Parents magazine.