A US doctor believes he may have found the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), whereby babies suddenly stop breathing and frequently die without apparent reason.
SIDS – also known as cot death – can strike without warning. Researchers have previously cited the causes as babies being too hot or not sleeping in the correct position.
Dr Daniel Rubens from Seattle Children’s Hospital has found that babies who went on to die from SIDS had all scored poorly on hearing tests involving their right ear.
Dr Rubens says that the problem with the right ear means some babies do not have a normal reflex when they struggle to breathe – and do not reposition themselves to allow themselves to breathe more freely. As a result, some babies simply stop breathing and may die unless discovered quickly.
The findings of Dr Rubens’s study may explain why apparently healthy babies may suffer from SIDS. He added that further studies would be needed to confirm the results – but if his theory is correct, new ways of preventing SIDS could be developed, including diagnosing problems with a baby’s hearing in their right ear in the days after their birth.
In an interview with The Seattle Times, Dr Rubens said:
“These babies have inner-ear damage, but they can’t tell you. They are too young to sit up. The baby has got a problem getting air.”
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