New Guidelines to Combat Sudden Infant Death

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome causes more than 15,000 deaths a year around the world.  It is the leading cause of death for children between one month and one year old in the United States.

The exact cause of SIDS is unknown, though genetics, environment, infection and heart problems may be contributing factors.  SIDS is diagnosed when there is no other explainable cause of death.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has just announced new safe sleep recommendations to help protect against SIDS.

  • Have the baby sleep in the same room as the parents (but not the same bed) for at least the first six months. This can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent!
  • Have the baby sleep in his/her back on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid the use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows or toys.
  • Avoid the baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Researchers use Agilent technologies to study the causes and prevention of sudden infant death.

U.S. researchers studied genetic factors in 27 families who experienced SIDS.  They performed array Comparative Genetic Hybridization using Agilent custom microarrays to investigate possible genetic abnormalities, including copy number variations.  The researchers concluded that Array-CGH analysis may be beneficial during investigations after sudden infant death.

One of the suggested causes of SIDS is inherited cardiac diseases that can trigger fatal arrhythmias.  Researchers in Denmark investigated 100 cardiac-associated genes among 47 cases of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).  One third of the SUDI victims had variants that presumably contributed to the cause of death.  The researchers used an Agilent Haloplex Target Enrichment System in their next-generation sequencing.

Researchers in Spain also studied genetic variations in sudden cardiac death, including both SIDS and sudden unexplained death (SUD).  Using an Agilent eArray, probe and SureSelect, they specifically looked at titin, a protein responsible for muscle elasticity.  While the researchers discovered rare and novel titin variants that may play a role, they could not identify a definitive pathogenic variant.  They recommend further study to clarify the role of these variants in sudden cardiac death.


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