DNA could unlock cause of baby deaths

·1-min read

A genetic biobank could hold the answers needed to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which kills 130 babies in Australia every year.

SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently well baby, which remains unexplained despite clinical investigations, including an autopsy.

The University of South Australia biobank holds DNA from 25 babies who have died from the syndrome and is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Molecular biologist and head of genetics at the Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Leanne Dibbens, said research into SIDS was not as active as it once was as safe sleeping campaigns had lowered the rate of death.

Babies are most vulnerable to SIDS in the first three months of life.

"Our genetic biobank will enable us to analyse DNA from SIDS babies to look for genetic causes of SIDS and by finding these we will be able to test babies at birth to identify those who are at risk, with these babies being closely monitored in their first year of life," Professor Dibbens said.

"This research will help protect all babies and families from suffering the heartache of SIDS."

The biobank was supported by funding from River's Gift, an organisation founded by Karl Waddell and Alex Hamilton following the death of their four-month-old baby River to SIDS in 2011.

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