Being a new parent means worrying about a bunch of things, including your baby’s sleep, or the so-called ‘safe sleep’. However, living in 2022, it’s pretty hard for parents to keep up with all the new rules.
‘Don’t let the baby sleep on its tummy’. ‘Put out the crib bumper’. ‘Don’t put soft items in the crib’. ‘Don’t co-sleep with your baby’. ‘Don’t cover your baby with a blanket’. – the list is seemingly endless, and all of these rules are designed to avoid SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Scientists describe SIDS as an unexplained passing of an infant (under the age of 1) with no warning signs or determining the cause. It happens during sleep, and many parents worry about it. However, many parents worry over SIDS for way longer than they should. What worries everyone is that there are no warning signs of SIDS, which means there’s nothing to reassure parents that it won’t happen.
Well, there’s been a breakthrough discovery by the researchers at The Children’s Hospital Westmead in Sydney, Australia. They claim to have found a link to SIDS, and the study details why SIDS happens and it explains how the babies succumb.
Although the medical community speculated that SIDS was caused by an unknown defect in the part of the brain that’s responsible for breathing and arousal from sleep, the researchers in Australia finally found the real cause.
After analyzing dried blood from babies that had passed from SIDS, and comparing it to infants who had passed of other causes and healthy living infants, they found that the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) was much lower in babies who had passed from SIDS in comparison to the other samples.
The enzyme is a big factor in the brain’s arousal pathway, and that explains why SIDS occurs during sleep.
This could be a potential game-changer and a lifesaver if scientists can detect low BChE levels in simple blood samples. So, doctors are now hoping that they’ll be able to devise a way to keep babies safe during sleeping hours.
The lead researcher who helped with this breakthrough discovery is Dr. Carmel Harrington, who lost her son to SIDS 29 years ago.
Following her tragic loss, she set out to solve the puzzle and discover why SIDS happens:
“Nobody could tell me. They just said it’s a tragedy. But it was a tragedy that didn’t sit well with my scientific brain. These families can now live with the knowledge that this was not their fault,” – she said.