Monday, December 24, 2007
7 News Features: Early Warning
It's one of the worst tragedies a parent can go through. A newborn dies from sudden infant death syndrome. Now a simple, standard hearing test may someday identify which babies are at risk for SIDS. Here's Richard Lemus with this 'early warning'.
WSVN -- Katerina Simonova had just put her newborn down for a nap when she sensed there was trouble.
Katerina Simonova: "I thought I heard her cry and I said, 'go check on her."
When her husband reached the baby, it was too late.
Katerina Simonova: "He went and brought her out and she was unconscious and she wasn't breathing and he said, 'something's wrong.'"
At just three months old, little Ivanka died from sudden infant death syndrome.
Katerina Simonova: "This is the day before she passed away."
SIDS is the leading cause of death in children between one month and one-year-old. But doctors have no idea what causes it. Now, a possible answer.
Daniel Rubens: "I propose, and I have yet to prove this, that there's an injury at birth which causes an insult that affects a number of regions in the body that includes the inner ear."
Dr. Daniel Rubens has developed a theory around the hair cells in a child's inner ear.
Hair cells play a role in providing balance, breathing and transmitting sound to the brain.
Dr. Rubens believes when these cells are damaged, it disrupts breathing, predisposing infants to SIDS. And a hearing test could detect that.
Daniel Rubens: "It points to the possibility of detecting SIDS at birth by a simple, readily made test."
When Rubens looked at the data of 31 babies that had died from SIDS, all scored lower in their standard newborn hearing tests in the right ear, compared to healthy infants. They also tested lower in the right ear than the left, the opposite of healthy newborns.
The hope is this possible connection could prompt even more research and one day help prevent tragic deaths like Ivanka's.
Katerina Simonova: "She's kind of looking away, so I always think that she's looking at some angels, kind of seeing angels coming for her."
More studies are underway to look at all links between inner ear function and SIDS.