Thanks to new research, babies could soon be test for being at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) shortly after birth.
Researchers at Australia’s Children’s Hospital at Westmead have discovered babies who die from SIDS have greatly decreased levels of a certain brain protein which regulates sleep arousal. They also found the Orexin protein is in low levels in the brains of adults with obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing while asleep.
The research proves a theory that many experts had suspected, but hadn’t been able to prove — that SIDS is sleep related.
The research group will now work to pinpoint what level of Orexin is ideal for a baby’s brain in the hope of developing a diagnostic tool, such as a blood test, to prevent devastating SIDS deaths.
Education about risk factors such as cigarette smoke and sleep positions has helped, but 1,500 babies still die from SIDS each year in the United States.