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What is the causes of SIDS
The exact causes of SIDS are still unclear and research is ongoing. There are some factors which make babies more vulnerable to SIDS. Some risk factors are preventable, but others are not. Evidence has shown that some babies who die from SIDS have the following:
· Brain abnormalities. Some SIDS babies are born with brain abnormalities that make them vulnerable to sudden death during infancy. Studies of SIDS victims show that many SIDS babies have abnormalities in the "arcuate nucleus," a part of the brain that probably helps control breathing and waking during sleep. Babies born with defects in other portions of the brain or body may also be more prone to a sudden death. These abnormalities may result from exposure of the fetus to a toxic substance, or a decrease in oxygen. Cigarette smoking during pregnancy, for example, can reduce the amount of oxygen the fetus receives.
· Events after birth. Events such as lack of oxygen, excessive carbon dioxide intake, overheating, or an infection may be related to SIDS. Examples of a lack of oxygen and excessive carbon dioxide levels may include the following:
o Respiratory infections that cause breathing problems.
o Rebreathing exhaled air trapped in underlying bedding when babies sleep on their stomachs.
Normally, babies sense when they do not get enough air
and the brain triggers the babies to wake from sleep and cry. This changes
their heartbeat or breathing patterns to make up for the lowered oxygen and
excess carbon dioxide. A baby with a flawed arcuate nucleus, however, might
lack this protective mechanism.
This may explain why babies who sleep on their stomachs are more susceptible to SIDS, and why a large number of SIDS babies have been reported to have respiratory infections prior to their deaths. This may also explain why more SIDS cases occur during the colder months of the year, when respiratory and intestinal infections are more common.
· Immune system problems. The numbers of cells and proteins made by the immune system of some SIDS babies have been reported to be higher than normal. Some of these proteins can interact with the brain to change heart rate and breathing during sleep, or can put the baby into a deep sleep. Such effects might be strong enough to cause the baby's death, particularly if the baby has an underlying brain defect.
· Metabolic disorder. Some babies who die suddenly may be born with a metabolic disorder. One such disorder is medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, which prevents the baby from properly processing fatty acids. A build up of these acid metabolites could eventually lead to a rapid and fatal interruption in breathing and heart functioning. If there is a family history of this disorder or childhood death of unknown cause, genetic screening of the parents by a blood test can determine if they are carriers of this disorder. If one or both parents is found to be a carrier, the baby can be tested soon after birth.
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