The study identifies possible biomarkers for SIDS, but these are very early days

The study identifies possible biomarkers for SIDS, but these are very early days

About 3,400 babies die of AIDS in the United States each year. There is no immediate or obvious cause of death, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts do not know which babies are at risk for SIDS or what causes it.
For their study, published May 6 in the journal eBioMedicine, the researchers measured levels of an enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in blood samples from 67 newborns who died of SIDS and other unknown causes between 2016 and 2020. with those in the blood of 655 infants in a control group and found that children who died of SIDS had significantly lower levels of BChE than living children or those who died of other causes.

SIDS usually occurs when a child is asleep. Experts have speculated that it is related to problems in the part of a baby’s brain that controls breathing and waking. BChE is an enzyme in the cholinergic system, part of the autonomic system, which controls functions such as blood pressure and respiration. The study’s authors say more research is needed to determine if BChE tests may be able to detect and prevent future cases of SIDS.

Smoking during pregnancy is one of the risk factors for SIDS, along with things like family history and premature birth. The researchers noted that animal studies have shown a link between secondhand smoke and lower BChE. However, many other changes in the first six months of life are also likely to affect these enzymes and the nervous system in general.

The researcher who led the study, Dr. Carmel Harrington, an honorary researcher at Westmead Pediatric Hospital in Australia, lost her own child to SIDS 29 years ago, according to the Sydney Children’s Network.

“Babies have a very powerful mechanism to inform us when they are not happy. Usually, if a baby is faced with a life-threatening condition, such as difficulty breathing during sleep because it is with their tummy, they will wake up “This research shows that some babies do not have the same strong arousal response,” Harrington told the network.

Harrington said this study shows that BChE is involved in this lack of stimulation.

“Now that we know BChE is involved, we can start to change the outcome for these babies and make SIDS a thing of the past,” he said.

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Limitations of the study include that the blood samples were more than two years old, so the findings do not reflect BChE activity in fresh blood. The researchers also used forensic diagnoses rather than autopsy findings and included data on children between the ages of 1 and 2, although SIDS is usually defined as affecting a child under one year of age.

Dr. Rachel Moon, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’s Working Group on SIDS, noted the small sample size of the study and said the findings were not definitive.

“While the differences in blood levels of this enzyme were statistically different – even if this is confirmed by larger, additional studies – there is considerable overlap in blood levels between cases and controls that could not be used as a blood test in this the point with any reasonable prognostic value, “he said.

Dr. Gabrina Dixon, director of promoting diversity in academic pediatrics at the Children’s National in Washington, D.C., said the study was interesting, “but I would not say it yet. It could be very promising for future research, but the number of children is so small.” in this study, you need a lot more numbers to say that this is it. ”

First Candle, a national organization that focuses on eliminating sleep-related infant deaths and supporting families, welcomed the research but also urged caution.

“This is progress and that is why we should be optimistic, but that is not the whole answer,” CEO Alison Jacobson said in a statement. “Our concern about developing a SIDS vulnerability test is with parents having a false sense of security and adopting unsafe sleeping practices.”

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