A new study offers new clues to solving the medical mystery of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which causes more than 1,000 infant deaths per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study, led by researchers in Australia and published this week in the medical journal eBioMedicine, found that babies who died from SIDS had lower levels of an enzyme known as Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE).
The previously unidentified enzyme is believed to be involved in the brain pathways that prompt a person to breathe, according to ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a board-certified OBGYN.
“Possibly this would be a target for intervention,” Ashton said on Good Morning America Friday. “If you could screen babies and found that they had low enzyme levels, you could potentially improve that.”
Currently, there is no method of knowing a baby’s risk of SIDS, which is defined as the unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. In most cases, SIDS death occurs while a baby is asleep.
Because of the risk of SIDS, medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommend that parents and caregivers put babies to sleep on their backs, practice room sharing without bed sharing, avoid soft objects or bedding in a baby’s sleeping area, and use only firm sleeping surfaces such as a crib, crib, or pack-and-play.
The AAP offers these additional recommendations for infant sleep safety:
1. Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs all sleeping times– for naps and at night. “We know that babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die from SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomach or side. The problem with the side position is that the baby can roll more easily on the stomach. Some parents are concerned “That babies will choke when lying on their backs, but the baby’s airway anatomy and gag reflex will prevent that. Even babies with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should sleep on their backs.”
2. Use a firm sleeping surface† A crib, crib, portable crib, or play area that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standards is recommended, along with a snug-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that specific product. A firm surface is a hard surface it should not indent when the baby is lying on it Bed sleepers that meet CPSC safety standards may be an option but there are no published studies confirming the safety of these products In addition, some crib mattresses and sleeping surfaces advertised to reduce the risk of SIDS There is no evidence that this is true, but parents can use these products if they meet CPSC safety standards.
3. Keep the baby’s sleeping area in the same room where you sleep for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year. “Place your baby’s crib, crib, portable crib or play area in your bedroom, close to your bed. The AAP recommends room sharing because it can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50% and is much safer than using it. sharing beds. Plus, sharing the room makes it easier for you to feed, comfort and monitor your baby.”
4. Only put your baby in your bed to feed or comfort† “Put your baby back in his or her own sleeping space when you are ready to go to sleep. If there is a possibility that you may fall asleep, make sure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that can touch the face, your baby’s head and neck, or your baby’s overheating. As soon as you wake up, you should move the baby to his or her own bed… Beds are not recommended for babies.”
5. Never put your baby to sleep on a couch, couch or armchair. “This is an extremely dangerous place for your baby to sleep.”
6. Keep soft objects, loose bedding and other objects out of the baby’s sleeping area† “This includes pillows, comforters, quilts, sheepskins, blankets, toys, pads or similar products that can be attached to the crib slats or sides. If you are concerned that your baby will get cold, you can use baby sleepwear, like a portable blanket. In general, your baby should only wear one layer more than you wear.”
7. Swaddle your baby safely† “However, make sure the baby is always on his or her back when being swaddled. The swaddle should not be too tight or make it difficult for the baby to breathe or move his or her hips. If your baby looks like him or she is if you try to roll over you should stop swaddling.”
8. Try giving a pacifier during naps and bedtimes† “This helps reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out after the baby is asleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 2-3 weeks. If you are not breastfeeding baby you can start the pacifier whenever you want It’s okay if your baby doesn’t want a pacifier You can try again later but some babies just don’t like them If the pacifier falls out after your baby falls asleep , you don’t have to put it back.”