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Scientists Found a New Unusual Risk Factor for SIDS

written by / May 25, 2022
Scientists Found a New Unusual Risk Factor for SIDS

A new revolutionary study attempts to answer one of the most troubling questions for parents of young infants — what causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)? 

After studying blood samples from over 600 newborns taken two to three days after birth, Australian scientists identified a biomarker potentially linked with an elevated risk of SIDS. 

Namely, newborns with lower levels of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in their blood had more SIDS outcomes than those with normal levels of this enzyme. 

However, this isn’t the only determining factor when it comes to this mysterious syndrome. Experts believe multiple factors contribute to SIDS, many of which remain unidentified.

So, SIDS is still defined as an infant’s unexpected and inexplicable death that usually occurs during sleep. 

Up until now, several risk factors have been identified, including premature birth, low birth weight, and sleeping on the stomach. What’s more, babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are three times more likely to die due to SIDS.

This study exposes one more indicator of higher vulnerability to SIDS. 

Given that butyrylcholinesterase is involved in the process of nerve impulse transmission, the results seem to confirm one of the main SIDS hypotheses — that its cause is, in part, neurological. 

Experts are convinced that autonomic cholinergic dysfunction is at fault for SIDS. This means that there’s a malfunction happening in the unconscious part of neurological regulation processes that control breathing, wakefulness, and attention. 

The fact that SIDS usually occurs during sleep also corroborates this hypothesis.

According to the CDC, about 3,400 infants die of SIDS in the US each year. So, if a simple blood test can prevent these morbid statistics, it won’t only spare the lives of innocent infants but also prevent parents from spending sleepless nights worrying.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”

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