THURSDAY, Aug. 19, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Gene mutations found in babies who died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) could help explain why certain infants are at increased risk, according to a study in the September issue of Pediatric Research.
The 11 different rare protein-changing mutations were found in genes linked to the autonomic nervous system, which regulates numerous body functions, including breathing and heartbeat.
Researchers led by Dr. Debra E. Weese-Mayer of Rush University Medical Center compared genetic material from 92 babies who died from SIDS and 92 healthy babies. They identified the gene mutations in 14 of the 92 SIDS cases but found only one such mutation in two of the 92 healthy babies.
Of the 14 SIDS babies with these mutations, 71 percent were black. This finding may help explain the ethnic disparity in SIDS cases, the researchers said.
"These data represent further refinement of the genetic profile that might place an infant at increased risk for SIDS," said Weese-Meyer in a prepared statement.
The Nemours Foundation has more about SIDS.