New insight into SIDS deaths points to lack of oxygen

April 15, 2014 by David Ellis

(Medical Xpress)—Research at the University of Adelaide has shed new light onto the possible causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which could help to prevent future loss of children's lives.

In a world-first study, researchers in the University's School of Medical Sciences have found that telltale signs in the brains of babies that have died of SIDS are remarkably similar to those of children who died of accidental asphyxiation.

"This is a very important result. It helps to show that asphyxia rather than infection or trauma is more likely to be involved in SIDS deaths," says the leader of the project, Professor Roger Byard AO, Marks Professor of Pathology at the University of Adelaide and Senior Specialist Forensic Pathologist with Forensic Science SA.

The study compared 176 children who died from head trauma, infection, drowning, asphyxia and SIDS.

Researchers were looking at the presence and distribution of a protein called â-amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the brain. This "APP staining", as it's known, could be an important tool for showing how children have died. This is the first time a detailed study of APP has been undertaken in SIDS cases.

"All 48 of the SIDS deaths we looked at showed APP staining in the brain," Professor Byard says.

"The staining by itself does not necessarily tell us the cause of death, but it can help to clarify the mechanism.

"The really interesting point is that the pattern of APP staining in SIDS cases - both the amount and distribution of the staining - was very similar to those in children who had died from asphyxia."

Professor Byard says that in one case, the presence of APP staining in a baby who had died of SIDS led to the identification of a significant sleep breathing problem, or apnoea, in the deceased baby's sibling.

"This raised the possibility of an inherited sleep apnoea problem, and this knowledge could be enough to help save a child's life," Professor Byard says.

"Because of the remarkable similarity in SIDS and asphyxia cases, the question is now: is there an asphyxia-based mechanism of death in SIDS? We don't know the answer to that yet, but it looks very promising."

This study was conducted at the University of Adelaide by visiting postdoctoral researcher Dr Lisbeth Jensen from Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, and was funded by SIDS and Kids South Australia. The results have been published in the journal Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology.

"This work also fits in very well with collaborative research that is currently being undertaken between the University of Adelaide and Harvard University, on chemical changes in parts of the brain that control breathing," Professor Byard says.

Explore further: Brainstem abnormalities found in 'SIDS' infants, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments

Related Stories

Brainstem abnormalities found in 'SIDS' infants, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments

November 11, 2013
Investigators at Boston Children's Hospital report that infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments, have underlying brainstem abnormalities and are not all normal prior to death.

Infant mortality risk increases with maternal alcohol use

February 25, 2013
(HealthDay)—Maternal alcohol-use disorder increases the risk of both sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and non-SIDS-related infant mortality, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in Pediatrics.

Bed-sharing Sweden advises against infants in parental bed (Update)

December 4, 2013
Sweden, where bed-sharing between parents and infants is widespread, issued advice Wednesday warning that the practice with newborns increased the risk of sudden infant death.

X-Chromosome gene variant linked to SIDS in boys

February 21, 2012
(HealthDay) -- A gene variant on the X-chromosome is associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) only in boys, particularly those who die at the ages of highest SIDS prevalence, according to a study published online ...

Lower risk of SIDS linked to breastfeeding

June 14, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study published in Pediatrics, lead researcher Dr. Fern Hauck from the University School of Medicine analyzed previous sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, studies and agrees that breastfeeding ...

Bed sharing with parents increases risk of cot death fivefold

May 20, 2013
Bed sharing with parents is linked to a fivefold increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), even when the parents are non-smokers and the mother has not been drinking alcohol and does not use illegal drugs, according ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.