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Research Suggests Serotonin Plays A Role In SIDS

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Aired 2/2/10

New research indicates low levels of serotonin in the brain may be linked to sudden infant death syndrome. Researchers say the finding suggests SIDS may be caused in part by a biological abnormality.

— New research indicates low levels of serotonin in the brain may be linked to sudden infant death syndrome. Researchers say the finding suggests SIDS may be caused in part by a biological abnormality.

Researchers compared tissue samples of babies who died from SIDS with those of infants who died from other causes.

Levels of serotonin were 26 percent lower in SIDS babies. The body uses the chemical to regulate breathing and heart rate during sleep.

Rady Children's Hospital pathologist Henry Krous took part in the study.

"The abnormalities may be in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter, serotonin," says Krous. "It may be in the release of it, the transport of it, the reception of it. And it varies from case to case."

Dr. Krous says SIDS is most likely caused by a combination of biological conditions and external risk factors, including putting a baby to sleep on its stomach.

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