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Effects of nicotine on bacterial toxins associated with cot death.
  1. N M Sayers,
  2. D B Drucker,
  3. D R Telford,
  4. J A Morris
  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester.


    Toxins produced by staphylococci and enterobacteria isolated from the nasopharynx of cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have a lethal effect when injected into chick embryos. If the toxins are progressively diluted the lethal effect disappears, but certain combinations of toxins show synergy so that if sublethal doses are mixed a highly lethal effect is produced. In this paper it is shown that nicotine at very low concentrations (less than that produced in man by 0.05 cigarettes) potentiates the lethal action of certain SIDS associated bacterial toxins and markedly potentiates the lethal action of synergistic combinations of bacterial toxins. These results could explain, at least in part, why parental smoking increases the risk of SIDS. They also provide further support for the common bacterial toxin hypothesis of cot death.

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