SIDS and the Baby’s Brain
According to a recent study, an abnormality in babies’ brains may be contributing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. The study was covered widely by media outlets like TIME Magazine. Since we’re always working to stay on top of the latest information about SIDS and safe sleep for babies, we wanted to share the study’s findings.
The study was conducted by researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office and Baylor College of Medicine. The team looked at the brains—specifically, the hippocampus—of 153 babies who had died unexpectedly in the last 25 years.
They found that in 43% of the babies who died of SIDS, the brain showed something unusual in the hippocampus. In a specific place where there’s supposed to be a single layer of nerve cells, these babies had a double layer.
It’s not possible to draw a conclusion from this, but the researchers say this abnormality might interfere with how the brain controls breathing and heart rate while the baby is sleeping. These are two key factors that may play a role in SIDS.
Doctors have known for many years that a baby’s sleep position can contribute to a higher correlation with SIDS; babies who die of SIDS are more often found on their stomachs or sides than on their back. The researchers say it’s also possible that when the baby is in one of these unsafe positions, it triggers the problem with this area of the brain.
More research is needed to determine what role, if any, this brain quirk plays in SIDS, but it’s an important development in understanding the condition that continues to claim the lives of thousands of babies every year.