Israeli Scientists Shed Light on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Triggers

Studies on zebrafish have given Israeli scientists a lead
which has brought them one step closer to identifying the
cause of the enigmatic and devastating Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome (SIDS), one of the leading causes of infant death
in the world. Scientists Dr. Hila Dvir, Dr. Ronny Bartsch,
and Prof. Lior Appelbaum from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University,
in collaboration with colleagues at Boston University, have
found evidence that ineffective wake-promoting neurons
(WPN) in babies’ brains could be responsible for their
premature death. The researchers hypothesized that a
repression of babies’ wake-promoting neurons, caused by
high temperatures to which their immature systems cannot
adjust, might lead to premature death in infants. The theory
was tested using zebrafish, which, in a similar manner to
newborn infants, cannot self-regulate their body temperature
and are extremely vulnerable to the temperature of their
habitat. The researchers found that, indeed, when water
temperature increased, zebrafish had fewer and shorter
awakenings from sleep. The study was published in 2018
in the journal, Science Advances, and corroborates current
recommendations by health professionals of maintaining a
comfortable room temperature, removing blankets from
cribs, and encouraging babies to sleep on their backs to
counter any resistance to the wake-promoting neurons.