Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – is this the cause?


As a pastor, I ran into several cases of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Every one was tragic.  The parents sometimes went to pieces emotionally, blaming themselves, blaming God, unable to accept that their otherwise perfectly normal, healthy baby had gone to sleep and never woken up again.  Some were able to recover their mental and emotional balance, and have more children.  Some never did.  Even worse, sometimes law enforcement entered the situation, particularly if a family had more than one episode of SIDS among their offspring.  That appeared to automatically trigger official suspicion that foul play might have been involved.  Sometimes it was very hard to prove the negative – that it wasn’t foul play at all, but simply a medical/health tragedy.

For decades the cause of SIDS has been unknown.  Now an Australian hospital has claimed to have identified a biochemical marker that appears to indicate heightened risk of SIDS among babies.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a world-first breakthrough at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

. . .

Researchers have identified Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) as the first biochemical marker that could help detect babies more at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) while they are alive.

. . .

The study found that BChE levels were significantly lower in babies who subsequently died of SIDS compared to living controls and other infant deaths.

BChE plays a major role in the brain’s arousal pathway and researchers believe its deficiency likely indicates an arousal deficit, which reduces an infant’s ability to wake or respond to the external environment, causing vulnerability to SIDS.

. . .

The next step for researchers is to begin looking at introducing the BChE biomarker into newborn screening and developing specific interventions to address the enzyme deficiency. It is expected this will take around five years to complete.

There’s more at the link.

Of course, we don’t yet know whether there are additional “markers” that may be involved.  Research will be ongoing, I’m sure.  Nevertheless, if this claim can be proved and a treatment devised, it offers hope for countless families going forward.  At-risk babies can be speedily identified and treated prophylactically, hopefully preventing SIDS from occuring.

Faster, please!  I’ve never forgotten the heartbreak of parents who’ve lost a child to SIDS.  I hope and pray this will end that tragedy forever.



  1. SIDS was the biggest fear I had when my daughter was born. She is almost 17, and I still check on her almost every night. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child to SIDS, and I pray that this leads to not only the ability to identify children at risk, but also a way to prevent another death.

  2. If this can only identify the risk, it will be very important. A treatment would be even better. We certainly live in the best of times.

  3. I was so frightened of this, that my daughter co-slept with me for the first week or two, with my hand on her back to feel that she was breathing. My daughter and grandson sleep in the same bedroom, and my daughter is still plagued by fear when she can't hear him stirring or mumbling in his sleep at night.
    One of the other women in a group of writers that we both follow lost her two-month-old son to SIDS about two years ago. Put him down for a nap … and found him beyond revival several hours later. She was wrecked – we all were, just hearing about it. She had already lost one child to a botched delivery, but she and her husband did have another child, a little girl, later.
    It would be so good, if this is found to be the indicator for SIDS…

  4. I think my first memory of someone I knew actually dying was a friend's little brother dying of SIDs. However, I think he was a toddler, if that's possible.

    As a parent, I admit I was concerned about it, but not to the point of buying those special monitors that probably didn't work.

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