Two brain systems tell us to breathe

Until now, scientists believed that a single area in the brain generated breathing rhythm, enabling breathing to speed up or slow down to adapt to the body’s activity and position. But UCLA neurobiologists have discovered that two systems in the brain interact to generate breathing rhythm — a finding that may translate into better treatment for sleep apnea and sudden infant death syndrome. The journal Neuron reported the findings in its March 6 issue.

Researchers find a genetic connection in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Researchers have found evidence supporting a relationship between SIDS and the 5-HTT gene in both African-Americans and Caucasians. They found a significant positive association between SIDS and the L/L genotype, and between SIDS and the 5-HTT L allele, and a negative association between SIDS and the S/S genotype. This information might eventually lead to the identification of infants at risk for SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) claims the lives of more than 2,500 American infants every year, and African American children are far more likely to fall victim than Caucasians.

Study Identifies SIDS Risk Factors Among American Indian Infants

A study of Northern Plains Indians found that infants were less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if their mothers received visits from public health nurses before and after giving birth. The study also found that binge drinking (five or more drinks at a time) during the mother’s first trimester of pregnancy made it eight times more likely that her infant would die of SIDS. Any maternal alcohol use during the periconceptional period (three months before pregnancy or during the first trimester) was associated with a six-fold increased risk of SIDS. The study also found that infants were more likely to die of SIDS if they wore two or more layers of clothing while they slept.

Heart gone haywire blamed in some sudden infant deaths

An electrical problem in the heart may cause one out of 20 cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), researchers have reported.
The problem is similar to a heart condition called long Q-T syndrome that contributes to sudden death in young people and adults. In long Q-T syndrome, the heart electrically recharges itself too slowly or in a disorganized fashion in preparation for the next heartbeat. When combined with a trigger, such as intense emotion or physical exertion, a long Q-T heart can go out of control and cause cardiac arrest and sudden death.

One in Three Children Regularly Exposed to Tobacco Smoke at Home

Second-hand tobacco smoke threatens the health of 21 million American children ? 35 percent of everyone age 17 and younger ? who live in homes where residents or visitors smoke once a week or more, according to a study published Nov. 13 by researchers from RAND and UCLA. The study is the most thorough ever conducted of youths’ exposure to environmental second-hand tobacco smoke at home. It found that 19 million American children ? 28 percent of everyone in the United States 17 and younger ? are exposed to tobacco smoke at home on a daily basis.