30 May 2008

Studies: gator blood, sudden infant death syndrome

I blogged earlier on new research that alligator blood may contain potent antimicrobial compounds. Now the Miami Herald has done a nice long story that thoughtfully explores the possibilities and limitations of that research. (Hat tip to KSJ ScienceTracker for noting the story.)

And via the BBC, here is a report that British researchers believe some vases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (which the English call " sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)") may be due to undetected bacterial infections.
The researchers took samples from 470 babies who had died suddenly, and tested them for the presence of bacteria, particularly those capable of causing illness, such as Staphylococcus aureus or E. coli.
In some cases, the cause of death was known to be a bacterial infection, or completely unrelated to infection, for example a heart defect or accident. The rest were entirely unexplained.
Among those known to have died from a bacterial infection, 24% of the bacteria found were potentially harmful, compared with only 11% of those found in the non-infection group.
However, among the "unexplained" group, the figure was 19%, with 16% of bacteria found in this group identified as Staphylococcus, compared with 9% in the non-infection group. (Emphasis added.)
The authors theorize that toxins produced by staph could interfere with breathing or affect the nervous system. The paper, just published by The Lancet, is here and a Lancet-produced podcast (.mp3) is here.

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