Sudden infant death cases, brain defects linked in study

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Most of the seemingly healthy babies who die suddenly in their sleep may have undetected brain abnormalities, according to new research from Boston Children’s Hospital that is being published Monday.

The scientists observed defects in a breathing-control region in the brains of babies whose deaths were attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. The abnormalities were present whether infants had been put to bed in a safe sleeping position—on their backs—or in unsafe sleeping positions on their bellies, face-down, or surrounded by pillows and heavy blankets.

That finding, said Dr. Hannah Kinney, a neuropathologist at Children’s who co-authored the study, could provide some comfort to parents who have gone through the heartbreak of losing a baby unexpectedly.

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