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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome:

A team of researchers in Australia has identified a biochemical marker in the blood that could help identify newborn babies at risk for the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  • The researchers used dried blood spots from newborn infants and screened the samples for BChE (Butyrylcholinesterase) level and total protein content.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome is the unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant.
  • It usually occurs while the baby is asleep, although in rare cases, it can also occur while the child is awake.
  • The condition is also called “Cot Death”.
  • Newborn babies delivered prematurely or with low weight at birth are believed to be at a greater risk of SIDS.
  • The exact cause of SIDS is unknown, although revelations from the new research look promising.
  • Babies who died of SIDS showed lower levels of the BChE enzyme shortly after birth.
  • A low level of the BChE enzyme affects a sleeping infant’s ability to wake up or respond to their environment.
  • The enzyme is an important part of the autonomic nervous system of the body and controls unconscious and involuntary functions.
  • The previously conducted studies have found that low BChE activity is associated with severe systemic inflammation and considerably higher mortality after sepsis and cardiac events.
  • Prior to this research on SIDS, inflammation has been thought to be a factor in SIDS cases.
  • The mild inflammatory changes on the walls of air passages of the lungs were observed in SIDS infants as early as 1889.
  • Prematurely-delivered babies have been considered to be at a higher risk for SIDS, although a 1957 study that evaluated BChE in infancy found that there was no difference in the levels of the enzyme in premature and mature newborn infants.
  • Smoking during pregnancy is associated with a significant increase in SIDS events

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