Researchers at Westmead’s Children’s Hospital have made a connection between babies dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and sleep arousal.
What they uncovered is that babies who die from SIDS – a condition that sees a child less than a year old die unexpectedly in their sleep – have decreased levels of a brain protein, known as Orexin, which helps to regulate sleep.
Not only that, but, as reported by The Daily Telegraph, decreased levels of Orexin in adults ties them to sleep apnoea, which is known to cause breathing pauses during sleep.
Westmead’s Children’s Hospital sleep-unit manager, Dr Rita Machaalani, says she is so convinced by the “hard core proof” of this study – that babies dying in their sleep can now be associated with a brain-sleep protein – that doctors may be able to predict and prevent SIDS deaths as soon as a child is born.
“If we can determine what’s the normal level in babies when born than we can use those abnormalities to predict kids that might be at risk in the future of SIDS or sleep apnoea,” Dr Machaalani explains.
If you want to learn more about SIDS, visit red nose’s website.