Wow! This is huge! I think any parent, particularly first timers, have had that moment of panic…the one where your baby finally sleeps through the night, or at least for a good stretch, and you fear that he or she has succumbed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. As irrational as it may seem, when there is some little understood phenomenon that could possibly take the life of your child, no matter what the statistic, you can’t help but worry and then worry some more. There is hope for an answer! Researchers believe they may have found a common link among a number victims. Low serotonin levels were found in many infants who died of SIDS. According to this article at USA Today, a low serotonin level interferes with a baby’s response to carbon dioxide exposure:
“When babies are placed face down, their exhaled carbon dioxide may pool in loose bedding, where it can be breathed back in, Kinney says.
Normally, babies sense high carbon-dioxide levels automatically and wake up, she says. Babies who don’t respond appropriately, however, may never wake up.”
While more research is needed, if the link is verified, then this information could lead to screening of serotonin levels in newborns so parents and doctors could better assess SIDS risk for each child. Wouldn’t this be great? Until then, please remember that the SIDS rate has been cut in half since the Back To Sleep campaign that started in 1994. Please put your baby to sleep on his or her back and make sure bedding is fitted with no loose sheets or blankets nearby.