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posted by janrinok on Tuesday May 10, @05:43PM   Printer-friendly

A marker that could help identify babies at a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has been discovered by Sydney researchers.

The study conducted by The Children's Hospital Westmead confirmed what had long been suspected — that SIDS victims were unable to wake themselves up — but it went one step further by providing the why.

The enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) plays a major role in the "brain's arousal pathway" and was found at "significantly lower" levels in babies who die of SIDS.

[...] "Usually, if a baby is confronted with a life-threatening situation, such as difficulty breathing during sleep because they're on their tummies, they will arouse and cry out.

"What this research shows is that some babies don't have this same robust arousal response.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @07:39PM (6 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @07:39PM (#1243902)

    We don't KNOW that SIDS involves neglect, that's just a common assertion.

    I'll tell you what we do know: a 1994 study of infants identified as high risk for SIDS, including younger siblings of SIDS victims, discovered a significant occurrence of Munchausen syndrome by proxy IN THE STUDY SUBJECTS. With the NICHD looking over their shoulders with regular home visits and in-home electronic monitoring, multiple sets of parents STILL intentionally smothered their infants to death. That's not neglect, that's abuse and murder, and it happens - though it is thankfully rare in the broader population.

    What is neglect? Up until 1993 or so, putting your infant on their back to sleep might have been considered - in some circles - as neglect. Thinking at the time was: babies throw up - on their backs they are at greater risk of aspiration of vomit and that might cause them to die of choking. Research at the time debunked that little tidbit of "common knowledge" and the "back to sleep" result of that research is still holding today as the best recommendation to prevent SIDS. With this BChE enzyme knowledge, at some point in the future parents who have been educated in the elevated risks facing their newborn but still fail to take actions to mitigate them might be considered as neglectful of their infant's needs.

    There's a huge gap between what is legally actionable neglect/abuse and what is commonly considered neglect, but the more we know, the more things will enter the realm of "should have known better, that regrettable result was avoidable, the parents were neglectful."

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @07:54PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @07:54PM (#1243908)

    The "back to sleep" movement had one harmful effect: an explosion in the number of cases of plagiocephaly. []

    In typical fashion, medicine creates a problem, denies the problem, and eventually someone comes up with a treatment for the problem medicine created: []

    Image: []

    This happened to my firstborn children who were twins.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday May 11, @11:05AM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday May 11, @11:05AM (#1244016)

      Every medical intervention, no matter how benign, carries risks of significant side effects. Even (perhaps especially) vaccines. They are all risk vs benefit decisions, and decisions are usually better based on past observations than projections of what people think will happen in the future.

      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @12:40AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @12:40AM (#1244223)

        I just wanted to clarify that my first two kids got helmets because I knew their doc was full of it when he didn't bring up their misshapen heads and when I did, insisted that the problem would go away on its own, or maybe with just rotating their resting head position (while still on their backs). He could not admit that "back to sleep" was at fault. Independent research (thanks, Internet!) turned up the (at the time) new solution of helmets. They look fine now, but one has a slightly off skull shape (a bit more triangular than oval when viewed from the top, but symmetrical) that is not immediately evident until you try to find a bike helmet that fits.

        Never let a doctor try to buffalo you out of what you see and your common sense. They can push a "company line" with the best of them. Remember, "best medical practice" goes in fads, unfortunately.

  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday May 11, @01:50AM (2 children)

    by sjames (2882) on Wednesday May 11, @01:50AM (#1243981) Journal

    I wonder if the Munchausen by proxy finding was due to self selection? Commonly, Munchausen by proxy is seen in connection with a desire for attention from medical staff (among other things). Joining a study would be a fairly benign way to accomplish that. Apparently, for some it wasn't enough.

    Some parents of SIDS victims may be negligent, others conscientious but tragically mis-informed (bad advice dies hard).

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday May 11, @02:34AM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday May 11, @02:34AM (#1243987)

      I believe there were on the order of 500 enrollees and two deaths, one clearly attributable to Munchausen syndrome, and the other likely. The electronic monitor was effective, alarmed several times that might otherwise have been a significant event. The deaths were all off monitor. Both the effectiveness of the monitor and the MBPS deaths were politically ticklish topics that the official CHIME study reports avoided.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @10:41PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @10:41PM (#1244191)

        You believe? Both of those statements about enrollees and deaths are wrong. As is your conclusions. At least you can almost admit you are just making shit up to fit your opinion.