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What causes SIDS? Local expert shares a new clue

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:59 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Researchers believe they may have found the cause of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.

Until now, no one could explain why it happened. We talked to the health experts to find out what exactly is going wrong and how parents may be able to prevent it.

For any parent, losing their newborn baby to SIDS is a nightmare.

“SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome, which refers to the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under one year of age that was otherwise healthy,” said Dr. Katie McKie, pediatric sleep specialist at Medical College of Georgia and Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

SIDS accounts for 37 percent of sudden unexpected infant deaths a year in the U.S. In Georgia, it occurs in 80 out of every 100,000 live births.

“I think any number is too high for us to be losing babies,” she said.

Researchers say they’ve found an enzyme called “BCHE” that’s causing a defect in the part of the brain that controls when babies breathe and wake up.

“The study shows they were able to detect this enzyme in the blood spots that were taken from the heels of babies at birth, so it should be detectable by doing a simple blood test,” said McKie.

We asked if there was anything to look out for or if there are warning signs.

“There really aren’t, and that’s what’s so scary about it, but there are lots of things that we can do to help prevent SIDS,” she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics lists several ways to help prevent SIDS. Laying your baby on their back instead of their stomach, using a firm mattress with little bedding or blankets that can cover their face, and not smoking around them are a few listed ways.

The next step is to work on a screening test to see if kids are at risk for SIDS.

“It will be several years before we see anything practical come out of it. One piece to a massive puzzle, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said McKie.

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