HOUSTON – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has always been simply a tragedy -- a baby under 1-year-old dies with no reason.
Parents are often left with the guilt of wondering what they could have done to save their child.
Baby Samuel from Spring died on Mother’s Day 2020 at seven-weeks old. His parents, Breana and Aaron Chaplin, sat down with KPRC 2 months after it happened.
“Did I hold him long enough?” Breana sobbed remembering when it happened.
Now, researchers in Sydney have confirmed an enzyme that’s significantly lower in babies who died of SIDS. The reason that enzyme is significant is that it plays a major role in waking someone up when they stop breathing. Meaning, that low enzymes may be the reason why SIDS happens.
Does that discovery help?
Breana Chaplin says yes, but she also read about the research on the two-year mark since Samuel died, which brought back a flood of emotions.
“While it wasn’t soon enough for Sam, it can be soon enough for another child to prevent this kind of heartache because it’s one that you carry for the rest of your life,” she said. “I finally have answers in a sense, knowing there’s nothing differently I could have done as his mother to prevent this.”
For years, March of Dimes and the entire medical community have encouraged safe sleep habits to prevent SIDS. While this research doesn’t change those recommendations, it does show the parents whose babies still died despite the best safety precautions, it wasn’t their fault.
Breana hopes this new research will lead to an end of SIDS for all families.
“Now we have more of a definite answer that this is the cause, I’m curious to know what preventative measures can be done in the future. If they’re going to do screenings? If they can find something to help, so if they do have a deficiency, is that something that can be managed?” Breana asked.
Those are all questions that researchers in Sydney have already set off to answer. Now that they’ve discovered why it happens, now they’ll research how to stop it from ever happening again.
As a reminder, the current recommendations to reduce the chance of SIDS are:
- Put your baby to sleep - alone- on their back
- Keep soft, loose bedding away.
- Don’t sleep in a carrier, sling, car seat or stroller.
- Don’t smoke or allow others to smoke around the baby
- Remove any hanging window cords or electrical wires - babies can get tangled in them
- Breastfeeding and pacifiers are also thought to help