November 16, 1995 in Nation/World

Infants’ Breathing Pattern May Identify Their Risk Of Dying From Sids

Associated Press

Some babies who succumb to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome show abnormal breathing patterns in their first few days or months, researchers reported Wednesday.

The finding might one day be used to develop screening tests that would identify infants in danger of SIDS, according to authors of a study presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

While sleeping, healthy infants usually compensate for a long breath with either a longer or shorter subsequent breath.

But close monitoring of babies’ every breath revealed that those who later die of SIDS don’t vary their breathing as much as normal infants do, said Ronald Harper, an anatomy professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute. Finding that an infant doesn’t vary its respiratory rate “gives you a clue as to the brain areas that are not working right,” Harper said.

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