Australian researchers find possible biomarker for SIDS
Researchers in Sydney believe they have found the biomarker for sudden infant death syndrome.
The Children’s Hospital Westmead released the study in the June issue of the eBioMedicine journal and cited the butyrylcholinesterase, or BChE, enzyme, which had lower activity in babies that died of SIDS when compared to babies that died of non-SIDS causes. Its activity is seemingly random, as an earlier study saw that there was no difference in activity levels between premature or mature babies.
BChE, according to the researchers, when decreased in activity, can impair a baby’s arousal ability. Most babies who die of SIDS die in their sleep, and an impaired ability to arouse oneself when breathing stops while sleeping is a likely cause of death.
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Over 60 babies who died of SIDS were examined in the study, which used their dried blood spots taken two to three days after birth. All babies were between 1 week and 104 weeks old.
Previously, the Mayo Clinic floated a similar theory that babies died of SIDS because of a defect in the brain that prevented them from waking up at night.
Dr. Carmel Therese Harrington, one of the three researchers involved, decided to pursue the study after her own son died of SIDS 29 years ago. Harrington said the simple diagnosis of SIDS “didn’t sit well with my scientific brain.”
“These families can now live with the knowledge that this was not their fault,” Harrington said.
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Owing to the novelty of the research, there isn’t a screening test for BChE yet.