Sudden infant death syndrome: will parents finally get answers? – podcast | News
In 2003, Louise Barrett lost her baby Ellis when he was just four days old. When a baby dies of sudden infant death syndrome (Sids), there is no medical explanation. Although our understanding of the risk factors has improved over the years, we still do not know what causes these deaths.
The Guardian science correspondent Hannah Devlin tells Nosheen Iqbal about the flawed statistical evidence that led to mothers being convicted of murder in the 1990s and the progress that has been made in our understanding of Sids since.
A study published by researchers at the Children’s hospital at Westmead, New South Wales, may have brought us closer to uncovering a biological cause. The author of the research, Dr Carmel Harrington, lost her baby Damien to Sids 29 years ago. Although more research is needed, they believe they have identified an enzyme in babies’ blood that appears to be linked to Sids. Levels of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), a chemical linked to the brain’s arousal system, appear to be lower in babies who die of Sids.
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