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Thu May 12, 2022, 12:11 PM

Researchers Pinpoint Reason Infants Die From SIDS

tl;dr: It's the lack of a certain enzyme that helps with brain arousal during sleep. Absolutely huge breakthrough.

https://www.biospace.com/article/researchers-answer-how-and-why-infants-die-from-sids/

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) accounts for about 37% of sudden unexpected infant deaths a year in the U.S., and the cause of SIDS has remained largely unknown. On Saturday, researchers from The Children's Hospital Westmead in Sydney released a study that confirmed not only how these infants die, but why.

SIDS refers to the unexplained deaths of infants under a year old, and it usually occurs while the child is sleeping. According to Mayo Clinic, many in the medical community suspected this phenomenon could be caused by a defect in the part of the brain that controls arousal from sleep and breathing. The theory was that if the infant stopped breathing during sleep, the defect would keep the child from startling or waking up.

The Sydney researchers were able to confirm this theory by analyzing dried blood samples taken from newborns who died from SIDS and other unknown causes. Each SIDS sample was then compared with blood taken from healthy babies. They found the activity of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) was significantly lower in babies who died of SIDS compared to living infants and other non-SIDS infant deaths. BChE plays a major role in the brainís arousal pathway, explaining why SIDS typically occurs during sleep.

Previously, parents were told SIDS could be prevented if they took proper precautions: laying babies on their backs, not letting them overheat and keeping all toys and blankets out of the crib were a few of the most important preventative steps. So, when SIDS still occurred, parents were left with immense guilt, wondering if they could have prevented their babyís death.

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