Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brainstem abnormalities found in SIDS infants, in all sleep environments

Date:
November 11, 2013
Source:
Boston Children's Hospital
Summary:
Investigators report that infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments, have underlying brainstem abnormalities and are not all normal prior to death.

Investigators at Boston Children's Hospital report that infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments, have underlying brainstem abnormalities and are not all normal prior to death.

The researchers also point to the need to detect and treat this underlying vulnerability early, the focus of their current work. They report their findings in the December issue of Pediatrics.

The investigators, led by Hannah Kinney, MD, a neuropathologist at Boston Children's, have shown over the past two decades that infants who die suddenly, unexpectedly and without explanation -- whose deaths are generally attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) -- have differences in brainstem chemistry that set them apart from infants dying of other causes.

These abnormalities impair brainstem circuits that help control breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature control during sleep, and, the researchers believe, prevent sleeping babies from rousing when they rebreathe too much carbon dioxide (due to inadequate ventilation) or become overheated (from overbundling).

At the same time, epidemiologic studies have shown that infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly are often found in unsafe sleep environments, such as sleeping face down with their face in the pillow, or sleeping with another person in the bed.

In the new study, Kinney and colleagues asked if these infants are truly normal. They reexamined their data, reviewing the cases of 71 infants who died suddenly and unexpectedly, were autopsied at the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office from 1997 to 2008, and had brainstem samples available for analysis. The researchers grouped the infants according to sleep circumstances -- those considered safe (asphyxia not likely) or unsafe (asphyxia likely) based upon death-scene investigation reports.

In the end, they compared 15 infants with SIDS whose deaths were deemed not to involve asphyxia (group A), 35 SIDS infants whose deaths were possibly asphyxia-related (group B) and 9 infants who clearly died from other causes (controls). They excluded the other infants, who either had insufficient data or had evidence of other clear risk factors for death, such as exposure to drugs or extremes of temperature.

Brainstem neurochemical abnormalities -- involving serotonin, serotonin receptors, GABA receptors and 14-3-3 (a protein that regulates serotonin) -- were found in both group A and group B. Neurochemical measures didn't differ significantly between the two groups, but each group differed significantly from the controls.

"Even the infants dying in unsafe sleep environments had an underlying brainstem abnormality that likely made them vulnerable to sudden death if there was any degree of asphyxia," Kinney says. "The abnormality prevents the brainstem from responding to the asphyxial challenge and waking."

The investigators believe these findings confirm that sudden unexplained death in infants is associated with underlying vulnerabilities, and that not all infants who die in compromised sleep environments are normal.

"Certainly, there are unsafe sleeping environments that can cause any baby to die, such as entrapment in the crib, but if it's just sleeping face down, the baby who dies may have an underlying brainstem vulnerability," says Kinney. "We have to find ways to test for this underlying vulnerability in living babies and then to treat it. Our team is focused now upon developing such a test and treatment.

"Safe sleep practices absolutely remain important, so these infants are not put in a potentially asphyxiating situation that they cannot respond to," she adds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston Children's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bradley B. Randall, David S. Paterson, Elisabeth A. Haas, Kevin G. Broadbelt, Jhodie R. Duncan, Othon J. Mena, Henry F. Krous, Felicia L. Trachtenberg, and Hannah C. Kinney. Potential Asphyxia and Brainstem Abnormalities in Sudden and Unexpected Death in Infants. Pediatrics, November 2013

Cite This Page:

Boston Children's Hospital. "Brainstem abnormalities found in SIDS infants, in all sleep environments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111091733.htm>.
Boston Children's Hospital. (2013, November 11). Brainstem abnormalities found in SIDS infants, in all sleep environments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111091733.htm
Boston Children's Hospital. "Brainstem abnormalities found in SIDS infants, in all sleep environments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111091733.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain Surgery in 3-D

Brain Surgery in 3-D

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Neurosurgeons now have a new approach to brain surgery using the same 3D glasses you’d put on at an IMAX movie theater. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins