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SIDS Study Shows The Risks Of Science Hype, But More Work To Come, Expert Says

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(CTN News) – Researchers at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Australia recently published a study that could help solve the mystery of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). According to a Boston Children’s Hospital expert, you should temper your expectations.

The media is reporting that doctors can now test for SIDS because new research has pinpointed the cause. This is an interesting and solid paper, and we are pleased to see it in print,” SIDS researcher Dr. Richard Goldstein said. “Despite the media coverage, the… story is quite preliminary and needs further investigation.”

Researchers found the first biochemical marker that can help determine which babies are more likely to die from SIDS. In a study of Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) levels at birth of babies who later died of SIDS, BChE levels were significantly lower. As BChE is part of the brain’s arousal pathway, it could lead to an arousal deficit in babies lacking the enzyme. Researchers said this reduces an infant’s ability to react to their environment, which may increase their risk of SIDS.

In fact, cementing these conclusions could do more harm than good.

DR. GOLDSTEIN SAID, “THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE BEFORE WE UNDERSTAND HOW BCHE CAN IDENTIFY RISK SPECIFICALLY.” “IT MAY UNNECESSARILY ALARM PARENTS THAT THEIR BABY WILL DIE, OR WORSE, IT MAY BE INACCURATE IN OUR WARNING..”

However, Dr. Goldstein said the study might help increase awareness of the disease. “We welcome the contribution, but think we need to learn more before calling it a breakthrough,” he said. In addition, I would like to express our humility at the great interest the study generates. It reminds us what this is all about.

You can learn more about SIDS here.

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