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Blood marker identified for babies at risk of SIDS

By Reuters

A team of Australian researchers have identified a biochemical marker in the blood that could help identify newborn babies at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a breakthrough they said creates an avenue to future tragedy-preventing interventions.

In their study, babies who died of SIDS had lower levels of an enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) shortly after birth, the researchers said. BChE plays a major role in the brain's arousal pathway, and low levels would reduce a sleeping infant's ability to wake up or respond to its environment.

The findings not only offer hope for the future, but answers for the past, study leader Dr. Carmel Harrington of The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Australia said in a statement.

"An apparently healthy baby going to sleep and not waking up is every parent's nightmare and until now there was absolutely no way of knowing which infant would succumb," Dr. Harrington said. "But that's not the case anymore. We have found the first marker to indicate vulnerability prior to death."

Using dried blood spots taken at birth as part of a newborn screening program, Dr. Harrington's team compared BChE levels in 26 babies who later died of SIDS, 41 infants who died of other causes, and 655 surviving infants.

The fact that levels of the enzyme were significantly lower in the infants who subsequently died of SIDS suggests the SIDS babies were inherently vulnerable to dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which controls unconscious and involuntary functions in the body, the researchers said.

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Dive Deeper:
Enzyme in babies’ blood linked to risk of sudden infant death syndrome
Scientists find babies who died from Sids had lower levels of BChE on average, but say link ‘needs more investigation’
Cot death 'world first' breakthrough could help save babies most at risk of dying
It could explain why some babies died despite parents following guidelines aimed at keeping them safe
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Researcher who lost child to SIDS finds cause behind it
Australian researchers, led by Dr Carmel Harrington, have identified a biomarker that can detect babies more at risk of Sudden…
Groundbreaking new study finds possible cause of sudden infant death syndrome
Australian researchers have found the activity of an enzyme is significantly lower in babies who die of SIDS
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Explained | What a new study on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome says about the disease
A study led by Dr. Carmel Harrington found that the BChE enzyme level in infants who died of Sudden Infant…
How a SIDS Study Became a Media Train Wreck
An inspiring research project went viral for the wrong reasons.
Get all your news in one place