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Babies who die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) often have a small pineal gland. Researchers in Israel (Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 2000;42:487–91) measured urine levels of a melatonin metabolite (6-sulphatoxymelatonin, 6SMT) in 15 babies who had had an apparently life threatening event (ALTE), 15 who had had an apnoeic event not needing resuscitation, 15 infant siblings of SIDS victims, and 35 normal controls. They found that the ALTE babies had lower 24 hour excretion of 6SMT compared with the other groups. Six to eight weeks later 24 hour 6SMT excretion had increased in the ALTE babies, which suggested to the authors that there may be delayed development of melatonin production in such babies.

A study in Austria (Diabetes Care2000;23:905–11) has confirmed the increased risk of both type I and type II diabetes in the children of diabetic mothers. The calculated increase in risk was 72-fold for type I diabetes in childhood and threefold for later type II diabetes. The biochemical and clinical indices suggestive of future type II diabetes were related to high insulin concentrations in amniotic fluid, whereas type I diabetes did not correlate with amniotic fluid insulin concentration. Type II diabetes in the offspring of diabetic mothers is likely to be a consequence of in utero metabolic experience but type I diabetes is mostly genetically determined.

More than a third of the one million measles …

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