Researchers are finding the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The baby’s legs are visible in the crib. (Photo by Fabian Strauch / Getty Images Union)

Researchers have published a new study that may offer an innovative look at Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), an event that has previously baffled the medical community.

SIDS is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old, usually during sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. The CDC reports that SIDS accounted for 37% of infant deaths in the United States in 2019.

Now researchers at The Children’s Hospital in Westmead in Sydney, Australia, have been able to confirm the cause of SIDS, which usually occurs when babies die suddenly in their sleep.

The medical community previously believed that SIDS was caused by a complication in the part of the baby’s brain that controls the regulation of breathing during sleep.

In a recent study, researchers found that infants who died of SIDS had lower levels of an enzyme known as butyrylcholinesterase (BChE).

According to scientists, this enzyme helps regulate the pathways in the brain that control a person’s breathing, confirming what scientists originally suggested.

“We conclude that previously unidentified cholinergic deficiency, identified by abnormal -BChEsa, is present at birth in infants with SIDS and represents a measurable, specific vulnerability before death,” the researchers said.

Dr Carmel Harrington, an honorary research fellow leading the study, said the results changed the game. Harrington said the study provides an explanation for SIDS and hopes of preventing deaths related to the mysterious condition.

“A seemingly healthy baby who falls asleep and doesn’t wake up is every parent’s nightmare, and so far there has been absolutely no way to know which baby will give in. But this is no longer the case. We found the first marker that shows vulnerability before death, “Harrington said in a press release.

The researchers explained that BChE plays a vital role in the excitation pathway of the brain. They also explained that BChE deficiency probably implies a lack of arousal in infants, which would reduce their ability to wake up or respond to the external environment, making them susceptible to SIDS.

“Babies have a very powerful mechanism to let us know when they are unhappy. Usually, if a baby is faced with a life-threatening situation, such as difficulty breathing during sleep because it is on its stomach, they will wake up and cry. This study shows that some babies do not have the same strong reaction to arousal, “said Harrington.

Dr Matthew Harris, a pediatrician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center / Northwell Health in Long Island, New York, was not involved in the study, but told Fox News: “The findings are interesting and important. Although the sample size is limited, the study appears to indicate that lower levels of this enzyme are associated with a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Importantly, this may be an opportunity for earlier screening for risk factors during the perinatal period, or it may suggest that scientists and doctors have the opportunity to find an intervention. ”

How parents can avoid SIDS according to pediatricians:

  • Lay your baby on his back the whole time he sleeps
  • Avoid leaving loose blankets that can suffocate the child
  • Keeping babies in the beds of parents or guardians for at least six months, but not in adult beds

FOX News contributed to this story.

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