SIDs - lower levels of serotonin found, nicotine affects serotonin levels..

February 4, 2010 - An Australian-led study has confirmed a lack of serotonin was a common factor with babies who die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The breakthrough offers a "much clearer direction" in the search for a cure for the mysterious syndrome, which still claims one in 2,000 apparently healthy children.

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," Dr Duncan told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

"Our study has proven that in infants dying of SIDS there is lower TPH2 (a related enzyme) levels and reduced serotonin production." Exposure to nicotine was also known to affect serotonin levels in the body, Dr Duncan said.

Earlier research had indicated serotonin production may play a role in SIDS deaths though scientists were yet to determine whether it was more, less or the same as unaffected children.

PAPER: Brainstem Serotonergic Deficiency in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Jhodie R. Duncan, PhD; David S. Paterson, PhD; Jill M. Hoffman, BS; David J. Mokler, PhD; Natalia S. Borenstein, MS; Richard A. Belliveau, BA; Henry F. Krous, MD; Elisabeth A. Haas, BA; Christina Stanley, MD; Eugene E. Nattie, MD; Felicia L. Trachtenberg, PhD; Hannah C. Kinney, MD, JAMA. 2010;303(5):430-437, ABSTRACT..

Reference: Aussie experts confirm SIDS breakthrough, DANNY ROSE, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2/3/2010.

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