According to a study released in the February 3 issue of JAMA, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) seems to be linked to low levels of the neurotransmitter called serotonin.
This preliminary research suggests that low levels of serotonin in the brainstem may increase the risk of an infant developing SIDS. The area of the brainstem called the medulla oblongata is critical in breathing control and may be compromised during sleep in affected infants. SIDS may represent an inability to respond to life-threatening events during sleep, resulting in asphyxia.
SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants aged one month to one year. Recent public health efforts including the "Back to Sleep" campaign, in which parents are instructed to place their infants on their backs to sleep, have worked to reduce its incidence.
Source: JAMA. 2010;303:430-437.
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