A new study from Australia may have determined why children die from the heartbreaking and mysterious sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
Researchers call the small, peer-reviewed study, published in The Lancet medical journal May 6, a potential breakthrough in understanding SVDS and developing preventive measures to reduce the disease’s risk.
According to the study, infants who died of SVDS had lower levels of the butyrylcholinesterase enzyme than living infants or those who died of other causes, ABC Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton said on “Good Morning America” Friday.
According to Ashton, butyrylcholinesterase, or BChE, is thought to be involved in brain arousal pathways that control important bodily functions, such as the urge to take a breath.
“It would potentially be a target for intervention if you could screen infants, find that they have low levels of the enzyme, and improve it. But again, this is preliminary research at this point,” she said.
Pediatricians advise parents to reduce the risk of SVDS by:
- Laying children on their backs at all times of sleep – during the day and at night.
- Avoiding blankets in cribs.
- Avoiding overheating.
- Breastfeeding, if possible.
- Keep infants in their parents’ or caregivers’ sleeping area for at least six months, but not in adult beds. Prevent exposure to tobacco smoke before and after birth.
- Avoid co-sleeping.
- Remove toys and soft bedding from the sleeping surface.