Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Genetic Link to SIDS Found

Gene May Help Identify Babies at Risk

WebMD Health News

Jan. 17, 2003 -- A genetic difference might help explain why some babies are more prone to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than others. Researchers have identified a genetic link between SIDS and a gene that regulates a substance in the brain associated with consciousness and mood.

A new study provides further evidence of a connection between the mysterious syndrome and the gene 5-HTT, which regulates serotonin uptake in the brain. The results appear in the Jan. 17 online edition of the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

Previous research had suggested such an association based on SIDS cases in Japan, and in this study American researchers found more information to support that link.

Researcher Debra E. Weese-Mayer, MD, professor of pediatrics at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues, collected DNA samples from 87 U.S. SIDS cases, some white and some African-American and compared them with a second set of DNA samples from a group without a family history of SIDS. The researchers alsocompared the SIDS DNA with 334 random DNA samples to determine the frequency of this genetic difference in the general population.

SIDS affects more than 2,500 babies each year in the U.S., but African-Americans are much more likely to die from SIDS than others.

The study found an association between SIDS risk and the presence of a specific genetic rearrangement within the 5-HTT gene. There were differences in this specific arrangement of genes between blacks and whites, and between genders.

Researchers say those results suggest that there is a strong relationship between the 5-HTT gene and SIDS.

"There was a significant difference in genotype distribution and an increased frequency of SIDS cases versus ethnicity/gender matched controls with no family history of SIDS," write the researchers.

Researchers say if more studies confirm these results in larger samples, scientists may be able to develop tests to screen for genetic risk factors for SIDS and identify babies at risk.

SOURCE: American Journal of Medical Genetics, Jan. 17, 2003.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow