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Researchers find cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The feet of a baby are seen in a crib. (Photo by Fabian Strauch/picture alliance via Getty Images) LOS ANGELES - Scientists have published a new study that may offer groundbreaking insight into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), an occurrence that has previously baffled the medical community. SIDS is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old, typically during sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The CDC reports SIDS accounted for 37% of infant deaths in the United States in 2019.Now, researchers at The Children's Hospital in Westmead in Sydney, Australia, were able to confirm the cause of SIDS which typically occurs when infants suddenly die in their sleep. The medical community had previously believed SIDS was caused by a complication in the infant’s part of the brain that controls the regulation of breathing while sleeping. In the latest study, researchers found that infants who died from SIDS had lower levels of an enzyme known as Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE).This enzyme is thought by scientists to help regulate pathways in the brain which drive a person’s breathing, confirming what scientists had originally hypothesized. "We conclude that a previously unidentified cholinergic deficit, identifiable by abnormal -BChEsa, is present at birth in SIDS babies and represents a measurable, specific vulnerability prior to their death," the researchers stated.Dr. Carmel Harrington, an honorary research fellow who led the study, said its findings were game-changing.

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