Faulty reflex may cause cot death

An abnormality in the reflex that stops breathing when food "goes down the wrong way" may be a cause of cot death, scientists say.

The reflex that closes the airway and triggers coughing when food enters it is vital. If co-ordination of breathing and swallowing is lost it may cause death, says a study in the Journal of Physiology.

Researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney have identified two areas of the brain that control these functions and say further work may cast light on sudden infant death syndrome.