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Current Affairs

Sudden infant death syndrome

Date: 20 May 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Australian researchers say that babies suffering from mysterious Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS have low levels of an enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in their blood.

 

Background

Thousands of children have lost their lives to SIDS, which is also known as ‘cot death’.

 

Details

About 3,400 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year. This is attributed to sudden death syndrome.

 

The disease

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is defined as the sudden and unexpected death of an otherwise healthy infant under the age of one.

  • Most SIDS-related deaths occur in infants between the age of 1-4 months, especially when they are sleeping.

  • Some doctors say that the deaths occur due to problems that take place in the part of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and waking up.

 

Reducing SIDS risk

  • Parents should avoid smoking while pregnant or after the baby is born.

  • They should ensure that baby is placed on their back when they sleep.

 

Observations in study

  • The study aimed to assess if there was something different in babies that succumbed to SIDS.

  • Analyzing dried blood samples of various categories of babies, they found that babies with SIDS had lower levels of BChE enzymes than the babies in the other groups.

  • The enzymes send out signals that make a baby wake up, turn head, or gasp for breath. It also controls functions like blood pressure and breathing.

 

Significance of study

  • Till now, experts have been unable to identify what causes the deadly disease. 

  • The study has potential to pave the way for early intervention and diagnosis.