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American researchers may have discovered one of the causes of sudden infant death syndrome: it is an anomaly in the brain.

Sudden infant death syndrome is the number one worry for all young parents. Each year, in France, between 250 and 350 children (aged less than 6 months in the majority of cases) die unexpectedly during their sleep, when they were in perfect health.

The causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (which doctors rather call “unexpected infant death syndrome” or MIN) have not yet been elucidated, although certain risk factors have been identified by science – parental smoking, overheated room, sleeping on your stomach…

A faulty “self-resuscitation response”

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego (USA) may have pinpointed one of the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. American scientists studied the brainstems of 58 infants who died from NID between 2004 and 2011.

They discovered that these children had an abnormal 5-HT2A/C receptor for serotonin: however, according to previous research carried out on mice, this receptor (located in the brain) plays a role in awakening, self-resuscitation and oxygenation of the central nervous system. Moreover, this receptor is a key element of the serotonergic system, the “conductor” of certain vital functions such as heart rate, breathing and blood pressure.

Normally, children have a “self-resuscitation response” when they don’t get enough oxygen during sleep: they wake up suddenly and take a deep breath“explain the researchers who published their work in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology. It is this mechanism (which depends in part on the 5-HT2A/C serotonin receptor, therefore) which could be faulty in children who have suffered sudden infant death syndrome.

Source :NBC News

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