Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Cot Death could be caused by a swallowing reflex that forces the food to go the wrong way, according to a group of researchers from Australia.
SIDS has for long been a puzzle for doctors who have failed to identify the exact cause of sudden deaths in infants in spite of extensive forensic and death scene investigations. However researchers, led by Professor Paul Pilowsky, from Macquarie University in Sydney, suggest that the deaths could be caused by poor co-ordination in the brain between the parts that control breathing and swallowing.
The researchers say that the poor co-ordination results in a reflex that presses the vocal chords which results in coughing and swallowing. This in turn forces the food down the wrong way which could be very dangerous in infants blood oxygen levels drop down to dangerous levels.
"The timing of breathing and swallowing is exquisitely co-ordinated. We suspect that co-ordination of the two may be going awry in SIDS, but to be sure of this, we need to know how the brain organises this response in the first place", Pilowsky said.