Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS claims the lives of over 3,000 babies each year. It is most common in babies under the age of 1. For years, the cause of the condition was a mere mystery, but researchers have now had a potential breakthrough.
The findings come from a group of scientists led by a mother who lost her baby to SIDS over 30 years ago. The study was published May 6, 2022, in the eBioMedicine journal.
According to the study, babies who died from SIDS had lower levels of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase than living babies or those who died from other causes. Butyrylcholinesterase, or BChE, is an enzyme which control critical bodily functions like the drive to take a breath, and the ability to awaken.
On Friday Dr. Jen Ashton Chief Medical Correspondent for ABC news said in an interview that the study could change the way we look at and deal with SIDS in the near future. “Potentially, this would represent a target for intervention if you could screen babies, find that they have a low enzyme level and improve that. But again, this is preliminary research at this point,” she explained.
However, researchers say that the public should be careful not label this an ultimate cause for the condition but instead see it as a biochemical marker of the syndrome.
The Lullaby Trust, a British charity that raises awareness of SIDS said in a statement Friday that “This study looks to identify a biomarker that could help detect babies more at risk of SIDS, and we urge caution when reporting on any research around ’causes’ of SIDS.”