London - Cot deaths could be caused by a faulty gene, research suggests.
British scientists say the rare defect makes babies’ respiratory muscles weaker, meaning they find it harder to regulate their breathing.
It is the first genetic link to cot death that directly involves a baby’s breathing. The findings could pave the way for a screening programme or drug treatment for infants most at risk, the researchers say.
The exact cause is not known but growing evidence suggests that safer sleeping practices – such as putting babies on their backs – significantly reduce the risk.
Scientists from University College London were alerted to a possible genetic link by a number of SIDS cases involving babies with respiratory problems, and parents with neuromuscular diseases.