A strong link has been found between the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and cot death. H. pylori is a bacterium of the gut that can cause stomach infections and peptic ulcers. It is common in adults but rare in babies in the UK, yet evidence of its presence has been found in the windpipe of a proportion of babies who have died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Researchers from Manchester Royal Infirmary examined tissue samples taken from the stomach, windpipe and lung of 32 infants aged between two and 28 weeks who had died from SIDS. They extracted DNA from the tissue samples and looked for sequences of two genes (H. pylori ureC and cagA) that are characteristically left behind by H. pylori infection. One or both of the genes were found in 28 of the 32 babies, compared with only one of eight babies who died of...

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