According to a new study which the journal The Lancet recently published, sudden infant death syndrome might be caused by a genetic mutation. This condition affects seemingly healthy babies under one who die without explanation in their sleep. It seems that this mutation affects the respiratory muscle function and was associated with a number of sudden infant death syndrome cases. According to the researchers, it causes a dysfunction that makes it more difficult for babies to low oxygen levels in the blood, or hypoxemia. This also changed the shape of a “sodium channel” which is responsible with the stimulation of muscle contraction.
According to Dr. Michael Hanna, the lead author of the study, the evidence is pretty compelling in this case. Many sudden infant death syndrome cases are caused by a mutation in the “sodium channel”. It’s all about a certain vulnerability and in this case, is that channel that is making the babies vulnerable. When this syndrome happens, death often occurs while the baby is sleeping without any explanation and completely unexpected. Every year, about 2,400 children are dying because of it in the United States. For years, doctors have associated this syndrome with the child’s sleeping positions and exposure to cigarette smoke.
Sudden infant death syndrome might be genetic
Hanna says that a big campaign in America and Europe helps prevent these deaths. Its name is Back to Sleep and it involves teaching parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs. This way, they reduce the possibility of the syndrome by 60%.
Other experts agree with this reveal that this dreaded syndrome has a genetic cause. The researchers who conducted the study found a very rare mutation in the SCN4A gene. It was present in four out of the 278 cases of SIDS that they analyzed. Exerts think that having four cases in a number of almost 300 babies is huge. This is no coincidence. However, Hanna also said that only 1.4% of the babies died because of this mutation. All of the others were probably affected by other factors too.
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