Page URL:

Further cot death susceptibility genes identified

29 August 2006
Appeared in BioNews 373

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 David Drucker, compared DNA taken from 25 babies who had died from SIDS with DNA from unaffected infants. Significant differences were found in VEGF, a growth factor important in lung development and also associated with the immune system, and in two genes involved in immune responses (IL-6 and IL-10, both cytokines). Previous research by Dr Drucker's team, in collaboration with a group from Lancaster University, had found that SIDS is associated with common bacteria that can be found in the upper airways that infants less than a year old may lack immunity to. The new research proposes that babies with the particular gene variants may have a combination of under-developed lungs, compared with normal babies, and an excessive immune response to the common bacteria. Babies are most vulnerable between the ages of two and four months. Other risk factors, such as smoking and placing the baby in the wrong position while sleeping, add further danger to susceptible infants.

Dr Drucker, speaking about the research, noted that as well as possible therapeutic application this new knowledge could also help to avoid miscarriages of justice. 'This research greatly advances our understanding of the basic causes of SIDS, which is not a single disease but a collection of different causes of death', he said, adding that 'being able to detect high-risk babies means that health care and social provision can be aimed at the most vulnerable infants. In theory, commercially available and licensed human immune serum could be given to those children most at risk'. He continued: 'Forensic scientists would be able to assess the likelihood of a baby dying from SIDS through genetic measurements and so help prevent the sort of tragic miscarriages of justice that have happened in the past'. The research is published in the journal Human Immunology.

Cot death survey points to babies most at risk
New Scientist |  23 August 2006
Lung flaw link to cot death risk
BBC News Online |  23 August 2006
New Genetic Link To Cot Death Identified
Medical News Today |  25 August 2006
Scientists find genetic links to cot death risk
The Daily Mail |  23 August 2006
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.
2 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...
20 August 2004 - by BioNews 
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...
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...
Log in to add a Comment.

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

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.