Cummings Receives Grant To Study Relationship Between Serotonin and Hypoxia To Help Reduce SIDS

Kevin J. Cummings

Kevin J. Cummings

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health recently awarded Kevin Cummings, PhD, a four year, $1.5 million grant to help reveal how serotonin deficiency increases the risk of a baby dying from hypoxia while sleeping.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) remains a leading cause of infant death between 1 month and 1 year of age.  SIDS victims die following apnea (no breathing), a failure to wake up from sleep, and the inability to restore heart rate and blood pressure when hypoxia (low oxygen) becomes severe.

Most SIDS victims have defects in the brainstem serotonin receptors (5-HT).  This funding will help better define the mechanisms by which 5-HT loss prolongs active sleep, the relationship between the loss of 5-HT receptor and increased apnea, and how caffeine may accelerate cardiovascular recovery following severe hypoxia.

The insight gained by this research is necessary for developing new pharmacological, prophylactic strategies aimed at reducing SIDS within at-risk populations.