Sudden infant death: a new discovery advances medicine
A team of researchers from Strasbourg has managed to to establish a link between a cardiac anomaly and the phenomenon of sudden death of newborns.
To reach this conclusion, the team of researchers of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Cardiovascular Pharmacology, associating pediatricians, pharmacologists and molecular biologists analyzed for ten years the hearts of babies who died of sudden death by comparing them with other hearts of babies. died of traumatic death.
The researchers found a "very significant increase" in the number of acetylcholine receptors, a substance produced by the vagus nerve whose function is to slow the heartbeat. If the system works too hard, it can slow down the heart rate intensively and lead, in extreme cases, to heart failure.
According to the researchers, "the anomaly discovered suggests that these deaths could be precisely associated with abnormally high activities of this nerve blocker at the heart." From this theory, the possibility of early detection could be considered. The anomaly is easily detectable thanks to a simple blood sample. Treatment to reduce excessive activity of the vagus nerve could therefore be prescribed to the infant.
"The originality and major interest of Strasbourg's work lies in the prospect of an early diagnosis of the risks run by the newborn, thanks to the examination of a simple blood sample and a preventive treatment, since drugs exist, "said Pascal Bousquet, director of the laboratory at the origin of the discovery.
In fifteen years, the number of infant deaths for unknown reasons has already dropped sharply due to the stopping of the systematic bedding of the baby on the belly in favor of sleeping on the back. However, 1 in 2,000 babies still succumbs to sudden death in France, the equivalent of 400 deaths per year, according to the Faculty of Medicine in Strasbourg.