The terrible death of her little boy triggered by SIDS led a sleep specialist to make a first-of-its-kind development that might help doctors recognize children most likely to suffer the condition prior to it’s far too late. After her two-year-old child, Damien passed away from the illness in 1991, Dr. Carmel Harrington, who has Ph.D. in Sleep Medicine from Sydney University in Australia, committed her professional life to investigating sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
And now, 29 years later on, Dr. Harrington’s research study is a world-first development that might possibly result in the avoidance of SIDS.
Dr Carmel Harrington makes world’s first breakthrough in identifying a baby’s vulnerability to SIDS https://t.co/QUkuLuzI3e
— Nix Olympia News (@NixOlympiaNews) May 9, 2022
My research started 29 years ago with the death of my precious son, Damien. Long and challenging work, but now we know that SIDS babies have low levels of the enzyme BChE. First time ever we can work with babies while still alive and prevent SIDS. https://t.co/70miO5lfLA
— Carmel Harrington (@CarmelHarring18) May 9, 2022
Dr. Harrington partnered with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in New South Wales, in which they effectively recognized the very first biochemical marker that suggests a child’s vulnerability to SIDS while they are still alive.
Scientists at the SIDS and Sleep Apnoea Research Group at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Australia launched findings in the June 2022 edition of The Lancet’s eBioMedicine from a long-range research study taking a look at possible markers for SIDS in newborns.
Dr. Harrington’s research study has actually recognized the very first biochemical marker that might assist find children more at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) while they still live.
“An apparently healthy baby going to sleep and not waking up is every parent’s nightmare and until now there was absolutely no way of knowing which infant would succumb. But that’s not the case anymore,” Harrington asserted.
Scientists led by Harrington recognized Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) as the biochemical marker that might assist fix SIDS.
Here’s what Sydney Children’s Hospital Network reported:
“The study found 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.”
And the research study released in The Lancet’s eBioMedicine examined BChE activity in 722 dried blood areas (DBS) taken at birth as part of the Newborn Screening Program. The research study mentioned:
In recent years, the incidence of SIDS has been more than halved by public health campaigns however, despite this dramatic decline in incidence, SIDS remains the major cause of sudden and unexpected death in infants in western countries, contributing to almost 50% of all post-neonatal deaths.
More details of this breakthrough from the Daily Wire report:
The study explained that widespread current belief of the causes of SIDS rest on three simultaneous factors: “a vulnerable infant, a critical developmental period for homeostatic control and an exogenous stressor,” adding, “Despite intensive research over the past decades, identification of any specific vulnerability has remained elusive.”
Harrington stated, “Babies have a very powerful mechanism to let us know when they are not happy. Usually, if a baby is confronted with a life-threatening situation, such as difficulty breathing during sleep because they are on their tummies, they will arouse and cry out. What this research shows is that some babies don’t have this same robust arousal response.”
“This has long been thought to be the case, but up to now we didn’t know what was causing the lack of arousal,” she commented. “Now that we know that BChE is involved we can begin to change the outcome for these babies and make SIDS a thing of the past.”
“This discovery has opened up the possibility for intervention and finally gives answers to parents who have lost their children so tragically. These families can now live with the knowledge that this was not their fault,” she concluded.