Last week, a new study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) went viral after news headlines and social media posts claims that scientists have discovered the root cause of the condition. And a Press Release The study’s description asserts that, thanks to the “groundbreaking” finding, SIDS “could soon be a thing of the past.”
However, the study in question, published May 6 in the journal eBioMedicinehasn’t discovered the root cause of SIDS and likely won’t contribute to risk assessment or how to prevent the syndrome anytime soon, one expert told Live Science.
Instead, the study revealed an underlying marker – called a biomarker – that a newborn baby may be at higher risk of dying from SIDS. Research shows that there is a link between the risk of SIDS in infants and the activity of an enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in a baby’s blood shortly after birth. The infants who died of SIDS had relatively low BCheE activity compared with those who died of other causes or those who survived infancy, the study found.
“An important aspect of our finding is that it shows that many infants succumb to SIDS differently than they do at birth,” said study lead author Carmel Harrington, a researcher with the SIDS Study Group and Reconstructive Medicine. sleep breathing at Westmead Children’s Hospital, Australia. . However, “at this stage, our findings offer nothing new to clinical practice,” she told Live Science in an email.
Additionally, previous research has shown that many factors influence the risk of SIDS in infants, “so it is unlikely that our findings will apply to all cases of SIDS,” she added. .
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“It is clear that there is no single cause,” said Dr. Richard D. Goldstein, director of the Robert’s Program on Sudden Pediatric Sudden Infant Death at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. cause SIDS. The new study is an “interesting and solid contribution” to the scientific literature on SIDS, but for now, “the story of butyrylcholinesterase is in its infancy and needs more research before we understand its actual implications. it,” Goldstein told Live Science in an email.
What Research Really Found
SIDS accounted for nearly 1,250, or 37%, of all sudden infant deaths (SUIDs) reported in the United States in 2019, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In general, the term SUID describes any sudden and unexpected death of an infant under 1 year of age with no apparent cause prior to investigation. After investigation, some SUIDs can be attributed to asphyxiation, physical trauma, or some other cause, but if the child’s death is “unexplainable even after a full investigation including a complete autopsy, a crime scene examination, and a review of the medical history, “it is classified as SIDS, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Previous research has largely shown that infants who die of SIDS have poor autonomic functioning nervous system – division of the nervous system that controls involuntary bodily functions, such as Respiratorydigestion and heartbeat, Harrington said. SIDS is related to problems with arousal or the body’s transition from sleep to wakefulness.
SIDS often occurs during sleep and is more likely to occur when caregivers place babies on their stomachs to sleep rather than on their backs or sides, according to an editorial published May 19 in the journal SIDS. New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Rates of SIDS were halved in the US in the 1990s, after a federal campaign to raise awareness about safe sleeping positions and infant sleeping environments. But since then, the nation’s SUID rate has fluctuated around the same – around 90 births per 100,000 live births – and a large portion of these deaths are due to SIDS.
Subsequent studies have pointed to genetic factors that may increase the risk of SIDS, as well as brain and nervous system differences that can make it difficult for babies to wake up if they stop breathing during sleep, according to the report. NEJM report.
“We… decided to test the chemistry of one aspect of the autonomic nervous system, the cholinergic system that, from previous research, is known to play a role in arousal,” Harrington said.
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The neurons of the cholinergic system use a chemical messenger called acetylcholine (ACh) to communicate, and BCheE serves as one of the important enzymes that help produce ACh. Because of this, if BCheE activity is low, it means there is less ACh around, and this deficiency can impair the overall function of the cholinergic system, Harrington says.
For their study, the researchers measured BCheE activity in dried blood samples collected from 26 infants who later died of SIDS. (Dry blood smear, or heel spur test, is done soon after birth to screen newborns for diseases like sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis, according to UK National Health Service.) The team also analyzed dried blood samples from 30 infants who later died of other unexpected causes, as well as approximately 550 healthy infants who survived infancy.
On average, children who died of SIDS showed lower BCheE activity than both healthy children and those who died of other causes. This suggests that measuring BCheE at birth could help flag infants at risk for SIDS and may one day find a way to prevent the syndrome, the authors write in their report.
However, “a lot of work remains to be done before specifically understanding how it can define risk,” Goldstein told Live Science.
Based on the results of the new study, it will not be possible to develop a definitive screening test for SIDS based on BCheE alone. Although the SIDS group showed lower BCheE activity than the other groups, overall, at the individual level, their measurements overlapped with those of infants in the healthy group. So, separately, measuring BCheE is not a strong indicator of an infant’s future risk of SIDS, The Atlantic reported.
Another limitation of the study is that the team analyzed BCheE activity near the time of birth but not at the time of death, so it is unclear whether this level remains similarly low at the time of infancy. dead or not, Harrington said. Additionally, the study relies on the coroner’s diagnoses, not the autopsy report, to confirm the cause of death, so the true cause of death may be uncertain in some cases. case.
In conclusion, much work remains to be done before we fully understand the role of BCheE in SIDS.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.livescience.com/preliminary-sids-biomarker-discovered No, scientists didn’t discover the cause of SIDS. Here’s what they did find.