Elsevier publishes research linking inflammatory responses to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Infectious agents and genetic factors affect severity of responses.

Amsterdam, 23 August 2004 – Increasing evidence shows that inflammatory responses are detected in infants who die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to new research published today in FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology. Exposure to cigarette smoke and genetic factors might play an important role in affecting the severity of the response.

The new findings were the results of studies that examined three general groups of risk factors, including infection, inflammatory and immune responses and exposure to cigarette smoke – and how they affect the vulnerability of infants to infection.

Caroline Blackwell, Guest Editor, commented: “The evidence that inflammatory responses are involved in SIDS is increasing rapidly. The genetic and environmental factors that regulate these responses differ in different ethnic groups, and these groups now require urgent investigation, particularly among American Black populations and Indigenous groups in Australia, New Zealand and the United States in which campaigns to reduce the risks have been less effective on reduction of the incidence of SIDS”

Genetic factors play an important role in controlling the severity of the responses suggested to trigger the events leading to SIDS. Exposure to cigarette smoke is known to be a risk factor for SIDS, and research published in the thematic issue indicates that exposure to cigarette smoke significantly reduces the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10).

Most significantly, it has been shown that the level of the inhibitory effect varies according to genetic type. The genetic type most affected was the one predominant among Aboriginal Australians who have a high incidence of SIDS and also a high incidence of mothers who smoke.

The thematic issue is published as part of FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology.

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