Testosterone May Play Role in SIDS
Higher Testosterone Levels Could Indicate Risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Nov. 18, 2005 -- Infants with elevated testosterone levels may face a higher
risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a new study suggests.
Researchers found infants who died from SIDS have 50%-120% higher
testosterone levels in their blood than infants who died from other causes.
Previous studies have suggested that higher than normal levels of the male
sex hormone may cause depressed breathing during sleep, which researchers say
may in turn contribute to SIDS risk.
"These results may be important for better understanding of SIDS because
the known relationship between testosterone and breathing during sleep provides
a mechanism that potentially contributes to SIDS," says researcher Michael
Emery, PhD, of the University of Washington, in a news release.
SIDS is one of the leading causes of death among infants 1 week to 1 year
old. Although the number of SIDS deaths has decreased in recent years due to
increased awareness of proper infant sleeping position (on the back),
researchers say the exact cause of SIDS is unknown.
SIDS Linked to Testosterone
In the study, which appears in The Journal of Pediatrics,
researchers measured blood levels of estradiol (an estrogen hormone) and
testosterone in 127 infants who had died of SIDS and 42 infants who died of
The results showed that testosterone levels in male SIDS infants were about
120% higher than in non-SIDS infants and 50% higher in female SIDS infants than
Estradiol levels did not differ between the two groups.
Researchers say the results suggest that more studies are needed to examine
the possible use of testosterone levels as an indicator of SIDS risk.