Dayton Children’s responds to new SIDS research
This week, a scientific journal out of Australia found that there may be a connection between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), defined as the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old, and a certain genetic biomarker in babies. In a small study, the researchers found that infants who died due to SIDS had a lower level of an enzyme known as Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) two to three days after birth. This enzyme is believed to be related to an infant’s urge to take a breath.
While these initial findings out of Australia show promise, it’s too early to draw sweeping conclusions. The researchers have found a potential correlation for SIDS, but not a cause. While we wait for further research and conclusions, it’s important to continue to do the things we know help prevent SIDS, including practicing safe sleep.
Unsafe sleep is a significant public health issue because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 3,400 infants die annually in the United States from sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). These deaths include those from known causes such as accidental strangulation or suffocation in bed and from unknown causes, like SIDS.
The most important sleep safe practice is to place your baby on their back to sleep on a flat surface. Babies should sleep alone in a crib, pack and play or bassinet without any “extras,” like blankets or bumpers. And except for a pacifier, nothing else should be in the sleep area with baby. The baby should also sleep in the room with the caregiver for the first year.
In the past decade, dozens of products have come out promising to help your baby sleep. But, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests parents should avoid the use of commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations – these could include positioning wedges, Boppy pillows and swings.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has also announced millions of recalls throughout the last few years related to sleep surfaces, including inclined sleep products and infant lounging pillows. These recalls prompted the CPSC to update their standards for what qualifies as a safe sleep surface and the new standards will be enforced starting in mid-2022.
We know it feels exciting, hopeful even, that a cause of SIDS may be in sight. But it’s too soon to tell. For now, the best thing we can do for our babies is to continue doing what we know works, which is providing them with a safe environment to sleep.