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Family that lost son to SIDS reacts to new hopeful research

With the announcement of a new breakthrough study on infant death syndrome (SIDS) also comes hope for parents affected by the disease.
A new study is making headlines as the research could solve the mystery of sudden infant death syndrome.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - With the announcement of a new breakthrough study on infant death syndrome (SIDS) also comes hope for parents affected by the disease.

One such couple, Brittany and Ben Weaver, said losing their son Mason at just a few months old still affects them. “Obviously, heartbreaking thing that we had to go through and still go through every day,” Ben Weaver said.

The new study comes from researchers at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Australia. They think they may have cracked a big piece in solving the mystery behind SIDS, a disease that not much is known about.

The study identified the first biochemical marker that could help detect which babies are more at risk of SIDS. The study measured an enzyme called Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) and found that BChE levels at birth were significantly lower in babies who later died of SIDS. BChE plays a role in the brain’s arousal pathway, so a lack of the enzyme could mean an arousal deficit in babies. This reduces an infant’s ability to react to their environment, which researchers said could create a vulnerability to SIDS.

The Weavers, who started their own foundation to help with SIDS research, are greatfull for these steps forward. “It makes you feel proud as a parent. That’s what we had in mind with our foundation to... honor him and do what we can to help other families,” Ben Weaver told WVLT News.

It isn’t all that simple, however. WVLT News spoke to a SIDS expert who said that the new study is still new, and more work needs to be done. “The paper is an interesting and solid contribution and we are very happy to see it in press,” SIDS researcher Dr. Richard Goldstein said. “Despite the coverage, however, the... story is very preliminary and needs a lot more research before we understand its actual significance.”

The Weavers are optimistic, though, and share Mason’s story with their two other children often. “They know where he is looking down on them and the three of them have made Brittany and I’s life just amazing,” Ben Weaver said.

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