Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Advanced Search

Search for

Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook

King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

More evidence of genetic basis for cot death

20 August 2004

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 272

Genetic mutations that affect vital body functions are linked to an increased risk of cot death, a new US study shows. Researchers at the Rush University Medical School in Chicago studied DNA from 92 babies who had died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and 92 healthy babies. They looked at genes involved in the development of the autonomic nervous system, which controls processes such as breathing and heartbeat, and found that mutations in these genes were far more common in the SIDS cases, particularly in African American babies.

The scientists found 11 different mutations in 14 of the SIDS cases, but only one mutation in two of the healthy babies. Team leader Debra Weese-Mayer said that 71 per cent of the SIDS cases that had the mutation were African-American, as were both of the healthy babies. 'Knowing that SIDS incidence is significantly higher in African-Americans gives strong support for a the possibility of a genetic basis', she concluded. She thinks that mutations affecting regulation of the nervous system may mean that heart and breathing rate may not be able to react quickly enough to a stressful situation, causing these functions to 'simply shut down'.    

The study, published in the journal Pediatric Research, sheds further light on the possible underlying causes of SIDS. Education campaigns in both the US and UK to teach parents to put babies to sleep on their backs has reduced the number of SIDS cases, but has not eradicated them. 'We've had too many parents who came to us and said 'look, we did everything right - we got the best prenatal care, no-one smoked anywhere near the baby, we put her down on her tummy and still she died', said Weese-Mayer, adding 'that led us to say there has to be a genetic basis'.

Earlier this year, another US team identified a gene mutation linked to cot death and genital malformation in an American Amish community, which also affected control of the nervous system.


BBC News Online | 19 August 2004
New Genetic Link Found to Crib Deaths
Reuters | 19 August 2004
SIDS: Genetics may play a role | 19 August 2004


10 September 2012 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
US researchers have identified the gene, Atoh1, as vital in mice for their ability to recognise dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.
29 August 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
New research by scientists at Manchester University, UK, has shed further light on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The research has found that babies with particular variants of three genes are up to 14 times more likely to succumb to the condition. The researchers, led by Dr... [Read More]
02 February 2006 - by BioNews 
US researchers have identified a gene mutation linked to a 24-fold increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or 'cot death', in African Americans. The team, based at the University of Chicago, says the altered form of the SCN5A gene makes infants vulnerable to 'environmental challenges' such as... [Read More]

22 July 2004 - by BioNews 
US scientists have uncovered the genetic basis of a form of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) - or 'cot death' - associated with testes abnormalities. Team leader Dietrich Stephan says the findings, which will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help save some babies at risk of... [Read More]

Be the first to have your say.

You need to Login or Register to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions



- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
FREE public event in central London, 6.30pm on Thursday 8 May 2014 - find out more HERE

Please donate HERE, so that the Progress Educational Trust can continue throughout 2014 (and beyond) while keeping BioNews FREE for you to read

The Progress Educational Trust was shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards 2011

Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE, and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation