New Evidence in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

By Anna Kolchinski

Research published in the Lancet by UK and US based scientists has found that a particular mutation in a certain gene is more common in infants that have died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a disorder that causes the highest frequency of post - neonatal deaths in developed high-income countries. It normally strikes around 2-4 months of age, killing the baby, only to have post-mortem examinations unable to find a specific cause of death. However, breathing problems have been implicated. This caused the researchers to look into the SCN4A gene, which codes for a sodium ion channel protein in muscle tissue, thus making it necessary for controlling breathing. This gene is also known to be involved in many neuromuscular disorders, although there are different variants, only one of which was shown in the study to be more common in infants who died due to SIDS. 6 of 284 infants who died from SIDS had this particular variant, while none of the healthy controls did, although some did have other variants in the SCN4A gene. This has potential clinical relevance, as drugs exist to treat diseases caused by mutations in the same gene. Thus, it is possible that treating infants with this variant of the mutation with these drugs will reduce deaths from SIDS.

The Lancet. (2018, March 28). Potential genetic link in sudden infant death syndrome identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 8, 2018 from