This mysterious condition has long been a big black hole in scientific circles. Though rare, it's one of the most common causes of death in babies between one and 12 months of age. Now, a group of Boston doctors has found a potential link between kids at risk for SIDS and low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which controls breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure during sleep. And too little serotonin could prevent a baby lying on its stomach from waking up to turn its head and breathe fresh air.
So what can you do if you worry about SIDS?
There currently is no test for newborns to determine if the risk for who may develop SIDS. It may take years for medicine to establish newborn screenings that help determine whether a baby's serotonin levels are abnormal. But there's plenty of evidence that a few simple practices in the nursery can help in prevention:
SIDS may not be cured tomorrow, but let's hope that good news on this research front keeps coming. That will make all parents of newborns sleep better at night.
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctorâ„¢
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/thesleepdoctor
Follow Dr. Michael J. Breus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thesleepdoctor