Genetics may be related to sudden infant death

The sudden infant death it is one of the issues that most concerns parents and doctors. The origin of this problem that causes babies to die is not determined, therefore the investigations are carried out in order to find a cause to fight or at least take into account to avoid these situations. Works like the one recently published in The Lacent.

An investigation carried out by the University College of London and that points to the genetic origin as an explanation of the sudden infant death. A research path that points to the inheritance from parents to children and that would determine the muscular development and other important organs that would determine the death of the smallest of the house.


Genetic heritage

The novelty of this investigation lies in checking the status of respiratory muscles, such as the intercostals or the diaphragm, responsible for widening or shrinking the thoracic cavity facilitating to allow the activity of the lungs. These parts of the body have been shown to be related to sudden infant death, could malformations explain their malfunction?

This analysis took into account two other investigations. One of them developed in UK where the coding part of the genome of 84 small victims of sudden infant death was analyzed. The second of these works was developed in U.S, with a wider sample of children affected by this problem (a total of 194).


Specifically, the researchers emphasized the gene SCN4A, one of those involved in the development of receptors present in muscle cells causing them to contract or relax. In this sense, mutations are very rare and affect less than five people per 100,000.

Among the 278 children that made up the sample of this study, mutations occurred in four of them, the 1,4% of the cases. While it may seem a low percentage, it opens a new avenue of research where the genetic cause is present and thus explain the weakening of these muscles, leading to sudden infant death.


Prevention of sudden infant death

Although the cause of sudden infant death has not been determined, several techniques have been found to prevent it. From the Spanish Association of Pediatrics of Primary Attention, AEPap, the following are indicated:

- Posture when sleeping "face up". The "upside down" sleeping position increases the risk of sudden infant death. The safest position is to sleep "face up". So infants should sleep "face up". This is the most important protective factor to prevent SIDS.

- Avoid tobacco near the baby. Tobacco is prohibited in pregnancy. He too

- Promote breastfeeding since it has been determined as a protective factor against sudden infant death.

- Do not use very soft mattresses or wool. Pillows or cushions are also not recommended. Avoid anything that can suffocate the child during sleep.

- Take care that the room is at a temperature of 20 to 22º C.

- The pacifier can protect from the sudden death of the infant.

Damián Montero

Video: SIDS Study: Media Portrays Risky Baby Sleep Environments | Children's National


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