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Breathing a bit askew in SIDS babies.

In the 1980s, scientists in the United Kingdom recorded the breathing patterns of nearly 7,000 infants ranging in age from 2 days to 65 days. The still-unexplained phenomenon of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) later killed 16 of those infants. Although examination of the breathing records gave no clues at the time, investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles have now found low variability in the intervals between breaths in the SIDS babies.

Without knowing during the analysis which records belonged to which babies, the researchers compared the data from all the SIDS babies and 35 of those that survived. "The respiratory system [of the SIDS babies] appears to be more rigid at slow breathing rates," says Ronald M. Harper of UCLA. "It was obvious which were SIDS babies and which were not."

Though this breathing rigidity itself does not cause death, it suggests that the brain regions that control respiration develop abnormally in SIDS infants. Pursuing this lead may allow screening for babies susceptible to SIDS, says Harper.
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Title Annotation:Biology; breathing rigidity linked to sudden infant death syndrome
Author:Travis, John
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 2, 1995
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