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Researchers find a genetic connection in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Researchers at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center have found evidence supporting a relationship between SIDS and the 5-HTT gene in both African-Americans and Caucasians. They found a significant positive association between SIDS and the L/L genotype, and between SIDS and the 5-HTT L allele, and a negative association between SIDS and the S/S genotype. This information might eventually lead to the identification of infants at risk for SIDS.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) claims the lives of more than 2,500 American infants every year, and African American children are far more likely to fall victim than Caucasians. Previous research into a genetic connection has pointed to a possible relationship between SIDS and a gene (5-HTT) that regulates serotonin uptake.

Dr. Debra E. Weese-Mayer, professor of pediatrics at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, led the new study. The study will appear in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics and will be published online January 17 via Wiley InterScience.

This study of SIDS and the 5-HTT gene was motivated by previous observations of decreased serotonergic receptor binding in SIDS cases. The 5-HTT gene regulates membrane uptake of serotonin and was therefore considered a likely candidate for SIDS studies. Furthermore, a recent Japanese study of the 5-HTT gene found an association between SIDS and the L/L genotype and L allele.

Seeking a similar association in an American population, researchers collected DNA samples from 87 U.S. SIDS cases, some Caucasian and some African-American. They also collected DNA from two sets of control subjects. The first set was screened for family history of SIDS or other relevant conditions, then matched to the SIDS cases for ethnicity and gender. The second set of controls included 334 random DNA samples used to determine population genotype frequencies. For each DNA sample, the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism was genotype
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Contact: John M. Pontarelli
jpontare@rush.edu
312-942-5949
Rush University Medical Center
17-Jan-2003


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