Genetics May Make Some Babies Vulnerable To SIDS Or ‘Crib Death’


An important study published Wednesday in the Lancet shows a link between SIDS and a rare genetic mutation that would make some families more vulnerable than others – providing a possible explanation for situations like Clark’s.

The research involved 278 infants who died of SIDS, also called “crib death” or “cot death,” and 729 healthy controls. Four of those who died of SIDS had a variant of a gene called SCN4A associated with an impairment of breathing muscles, while no babies in the control group had it. Authors Michael Hanna from the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council’s Center for Neuromuscular Diseases and Michael Ackerman from the Mayo Clinic in the United States wrote that these mutations are extremely rare and typically found in fewer than 5 out of 100,000 people.

The paper stressed that genetics is just one of the factors that could contribute to SIDS and explained the “triple risk hypothesis” of the condition where a vulnerable infant, during a critical period in development is exposed to an external stress.

The researchers suggest that the genetic mutation could leave some babies with weaker respiratory muscles so that they would be unable to correct their breathing as quickly or as well while they are sleeping in reaction to things like tobacco smoke or a stressful sleep position.

“Our study is the first to link a genetic cause of weaker breathing muscles with sudden infant death syndrome and suggests that genes controlling breathing muscle function could be important in this condition. However, more research will be needed to confirm and fully understand this link,” Hanna said in a statement.

Hanna and Ackerman noted that the study has several limitations, including the fact that all the participants were white and of European ancestry, so it’s unclear whether other racial and ethic groups would be affected in the same way.

In the United States, minority groups, including American Indian and black infants, tend to have a higher risk of SIDS than their white counterparts. In total in 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,600 babies had died of SIDS.

Since 1994, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has been advocating a “Back to Sleep” approach to educate parents about how putting babies to sleep on their backs can reduce the risk of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics sleep guidelines urge parents to sleep in the same room but not in the same bed as infants.

As for Clark, her conviction was overturned on appeal after she had served three years of a life sentence. She died in 2007 at her home. No cause of death was given. A statement issued by her family expressed sadness and anger at her situation, stating that “she never fully recovered from the effects of this appalling miscarriage of justice.”

(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Ariana Eunjung Cha 



  1. Why stop at just the flu shot? Get ’em all, no SIDS, guaranteed! There’s not enough poison in the shots to cause SIDS. 😉

    • no it really isn’t. you eat tuna? guess what full of mercury. fruits have arsenic. it’s the amount and concentration that can be dangerous not any trace amounts

      • Yes, the (so-called) “conventional” fruits and vegetables, in the realm of the modern agra-business world, are heavily sprayed — more correctly, are heavily DRENCHED — with numerous insecticides and other pesticides. These applied substances ARE composed of arsenic and countless other extremely severely deadly poisons. Even when the fruit or vegetable is “washed off” and “pealed”, a significant amount of pesticide residue, which seeped in all the way through the whole fruit or vegetable’s interior, still remains. Boruch Hashem though, as more and more people are realizing this serious problem, they are more and more purchasing produce with certification that it was grown ORGANICALLY, completely by itself, without any of these toxic additions.

        Very tragically, the world’s oceans have long been modern civilizations’ garbage “dumping grounds” and thus many large areas of them contain large amounts of mercury and countless other gravely toxic pollutants. The tuna and other fish that live in these heavily polluted waters thus ingest significant amounts of the mercury and other pollutants that were around them. So, yes, mercury and other pollutants in tuna and other fish is certainly a serious problem.

        Boruch Hashem though, there are specific very good fish companies that employ various techniques to GREATLY MINIMIZE the amounts of pollution in their fish. For example, they fish in areas that are known to have much less pollution; they catch fish of certain sizes, etc.

        • tuna has high mercury from the fact that it’s a big fish. the larger the fish the more little fish it eats and the more mercury it absorbs from them.

  2. The US has the highest infant mortality rate of any developed country. We are also the only country that vaccinates newborns just a few hours old with hep B and we have the highest vaccination rates in general….coincidence? I think not…

    • That statistic is completely misleading. Every country has its own definition of infant mortality. In the US, every infant that is born with signs of life, no matter how premature, no matter how low of a birth weight, will be counted towards infant mortality. In most European countries, on the other hand, babies born below cutoffs for prematurity or birthweight who then die right after do not count towards infant mortality, rates, thereby artificially lowering their infant mortality rate.
      In addition, when adjusted for premature deliveries, the infant mortality in the US is the same, if not better, than other developed nations. There are a larger number of premature births (which carries a higher risk of mortality) in the US, the greatest rate is in the African-American community, for reason that are the subject of debate (the liberals use this statistic as proof that there is inequality in the delivery of healthcare, etc, the response is that there is a higher rate of teen pregnancies, which carries a much greater risk of premature delivery….).
      And last point, it is also believed that the higher infant mortality reflects a greater respect for the life of the unborn. In most developed countries, such as in Europe, everyone is much more liberal, and at the slightest sign of a fetus not developing properly, they will terminate the pregnancy. In the US, there are many more people who respect the life of the unborn, and will give that child a chance at life, even if they end up delivering a sick child who passes away. This too drives up the infant mortality.

  3. The first portion of the story was entirely omitted, which makes the last paragraph impossible to understand. Sally Clark was an English mother who lost two newborn infants back in the 1990’s. She was tried and convicted of causing her babies’ deaths mostly due to prosecutorial withholding of evidence and the testimony of a since-discredited doctor. Not only did she suffer the double tragedy of two lost babies, but she spent years in prison due to wrongful conviction. She was eventually freed and the conviction overturned, but she died a few years later.


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