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Promising but not definitive: Reno pediatrician discusses new study on SIDS

This is a recurring recording of KOLO 8 News Now at 10.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 10:41 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - For parents with an infant, questioning if the room is too hot or cold, and checking if the baby is still laying on their back is constant, as every year thousands of babies die of Sudden Death Syndrome or SIDS in the United States.

SIDS is when babies usually pass away in their sleep for no known reason.

Now, a recent study by Australian researchers found that a defect in the brain could be a potential cause.

General Pediatrician for Renown Health, Jose Cucalon-Calderon warns this is a very limited preliminary study.

“They had small amounts of children and then their definition of inclusion was up to children of two years of age so that means that it was older than what we apply the definition here for the U.S.,” said Cucalon-Calderon, MD.

Researchers compared blood samples from 26 babies who died of SIDS, 41 babies who died from another cause and newborn heel prick test of 665 healthy babies.

They found that most of the babies who died of SIDS had a deficiency of the enzyme BChE, which stimulates the respiratory system.

“It is a nice direction that they are pointing us, as finding a biomarker for SIDS, might give us a little bit more insight on prevention and recognizing risk for some of these babies, but is very early,” said Cucalon-Calderon.

Washoe County’s latest numbers show SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies under the age of one. From 2016 to 2020 there were 23 infant deaths due to unsafe sleep situations.

To reduce the risk, the county’s Human Services Agency (HSA) encourages parents to practice the ABCs. A baby should always sleep Alone, on its Back and in a Crib or bassinet, with a firm mattress and tightly fitted sheets. Also, remove any pillows or blankets.

Smoking is a risk factor for SIDS. Doctor Cucalon-Calderon says he even recommends his patients to not use vapes or consume marijuana.

Experts hope this can spark a larger, more contemporary study. If you have any questions about SIDS, talk with your pediatrician.

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