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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: 3, Interesting) by Kell on Tuesday May 10, @11:07PM (1 child)

    by Kell (292) on Tuesday May 10, @11:07PM (#1243953)

    For a long time I too had considered SIDS to truly mean "Socially Inconvenient Death Syndrome", and that it was a neat reporting name for incompetent parents or attention-seekers who had accidentally or purposefully brought about their child's death (see also, "fan death" in South Korea). However, this result that there is actually a meaningful biomarker strongly suggests that there might actually be an additional mechanism at play in addition to the mechanisms you've already identified. It can be both: there legit can be parents whose infant unexpectedly dies and which is heartbreaking, and there can be useless or malevolent parents who use SIDS as a cover for their behaviour. This result helps both those things: it can prevent 'true' SIDS deaths and make it harder for assholes to pretend that their infants death was congenital.

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday May 11, @02:29AM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday May 11, @02:29AM (#1243986)

    The Munchausen deaths in the NICHD study were not prosecuted nor proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but the likelihood was extremely high and the parents were referred to counseling.

    The more we learn, the more we know, and things do improve; at least as long as we continue to pay attention to the data and ignore the rest of the noise.

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