Heartbroken families share the stories of their babies

Families affected by the tragic condition of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have spoken out about their experiences after a new study suggests scientists are close to identifying a cause.

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby under one year old with no apparent cause. The disorder is sometimes called “crib death” or “cot death” because it is associated with the time the baby is asleep.

SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between the ages of one month and one year, with the vast majority of deaths occurring before a baby is six months old, according to the National Institutes of Health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a classification that includes SIDS, there are approximately 3,400 cases of sudden unexpected infant death syndrome in the United States each year.

Holding baby's hand
A stock photo shows an adult holding an infant’s hand. Scientists have reported a move toward identifying a cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

By definition, the cause of SIDS is unknown. The condition can be painful for bereaved parents who don’t have answers.

Some evidence suggests that infants who die from SIDS had a brain disorder that affected nerve cells that might control vital functions like breathing and heart rate, but other possible factors have also been identified.

Scientists have now identified a chemical called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) whose activity was significantly lower in babies who died from SIDS compared to infants alive or those who died from diseases other than SIDS.

The finding could mean doctors will be able to identify infants at risk for SIDS before they die, opening up new research into prevention.

The study proved extremely popular on Twitter, where it was hailed as a major scientific breakthrough. A tweet The description of the research had received more than 60,000 likes and well over 1,000 comments as of Friday.

The news prompted several Twitter users to share their own experiences of losing loved ones or their own children to SIDS.

kathykiiscool wrote that she lost her first son at 38 weeks, which doctors say was SIDS in the womb, adding that “the technician cried during the ultrasound.”

“Even though my SIDS happened in 1991, the emotion and pain is still there,” she said news week.

She said she “never really got answers” when she lost her child to SIDS when she was just 19. “I’m grateful there are people trying to understand what causes SIDS,” she added.

Getvalentined wrote that her mother lost a little sister to SIDS more than 50 years ago and that her family “never recovered.” she said news week: “The breakthrough will certainly help save a lot of babies – but I don’t think people know how many families it will also save.”

The new SIDS study, titled “Butyrylcholinesterase is a Potential Biomarker of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” was published in the journal eBiomedicine on May 6th.

https://www.newsweek.com/sudden-infant-death-syndrome-sids-study-cause-science-1706351 Heartbroken families share the stories of their babies

Rick Schindler

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