Major Breakthrough In Discovering The Cause Of SIDS 6 years ago

Major Breakthrough In Discovering The Cause Of SIDS

Research carried out in Australia may hold the key to ending a diagnosis of 'undetermined' when it comes to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

A study on a group of babies who died from cot death found they had a decreased level of a protein that helps us wake up if we stop breathing from sleep apnoea.

Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald show that the study, carried out by the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Sydney, found a 20 per cent decrease in this protein (called orexin) in the babies that had died of SIDS compared to the control group of babies.

Dr. Rita Machaalani carried out the research – she said not all the babies who died of cot death had the decreased level, but when averaged among the SIDS babies, they were lower than in the control group:

"That seems to indicate that these babies may have had some defect in the message that says this baby should arouse during their sleep time but it didn’t get through to do so. This response to tell them to wake up is not as strong as it would be (in other babies without SIDS)"


This is the first evidence of a biological explanation for cot death, and it is now hoped that this research could eventually lead to babies being screened for these low levels of orexin.

A test like this wouldn't be available to the public for at least ten years. It is also thought that the cause of SIDS could, in fact, be a combination of lack of orexin as well as another risk factor like bad sleeping habit.

We are very excited about this first potential biological breakthrough for cot death and in the meantime remind parents to follow the SIDS guidelines and not to disregard evidence-based risks that relate to the death of newborns dying in their sleep such as smoking, excessive bedding and sleeping on their tummies.