The study compared 41 infants who had died of SIDS to 12 who had died from known causes, and found that serotonin levels were much lower (like 25 percent lower) in the SIDS infants. So what does this mean?
Dr. Hanna Kinney, the doctor and Harvard professor who headed this study, thinks that an underlying defect makes it harder for some babies to deal with a stressor -- to turn his head or wiggle out of a compressed position. Serotonin helps us wake up. One researcher compares it to an alarm, which for these babies fails to go off when they’re in trouble.
This is a controversial area to study in the first place. Many want to say SIDS is only a matter of suffocation, which is why we’ve been trained to put babies to sleep on their backs and without any extra crap in their beds. The less chance of a baby’s face being smushed, the lower the risk of SIDS.
Kinney points out that there are babies who are put in these positions who still don’t die -- like most of us, right? I know my mom put me to sleep on my stomach especially if I had a cold, so that the phlegm would run out my nose rather than down into my lungs. It’s the at-risk babies who are at much higher SIDS risk.
It’s one more piece of the SIDS puzzle. Someday, there might even be a screening test to see which babies are more at risk for SIDS. Until then, of course, follow the recommendations:
- Put babies on their backs to sleep.
- Keep their sleeping surface firm and uncluttered -- no pillows, no blankets (get a sleep sack instead).
- Don’t overheat babies’ bedrooms.
- Try to get your baby on a pacifier.
- NO SMOKING NEAR THE BABY.
Does this help ease your SIDS fears or just raise more questions?
Image via Nikki_Nov0caine/CafeMom