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