In the early 1970s the concept of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) was introduced in an attempt to categorize death among infants who die suddenly and unexpectedly and in whom post-mortem investigation fails to provide a credible diagnosis. SIDS today is the largest single cause of death industrialized nations, representing 25 percent of all deaths in the first year of life.
Prior to 1996, only a small number of infant and child deaths were investigated for a "metabolic disorder." This was due to (l) poor access to postmortem screening for inborn errors of the metabolism; (2) the high cost of such testing services from highly specialized laboratories; and (3) limited awareness of new technologies, including the Tandem Mass Spectrometry (MS/MS) for diagnosing underlying metabolic disturbances and disorders.
Since then, advances in technology have facilitated routine postmortem screening for metabolic disorders that may be the underlying cause of death in some infants and children, rather than SIDS. Among the newer technologies is one that screens for metabolic disorders. Using CDC data, the model predicts that 465 infants are likely to be born each year with a metabolic disorder that is detectable by MS/MS. Of the 465 infants with the disorder, 155 are expected to die. Other technology has estimated that the percent of SIDS deaths should be reduced by five percent, as MS/MS has detected that five percent of infant deaths are due to defects within the metabolic system.
A newly published study may not be able to alleviate a parent's grief over a child taken by SIDS, but its findings may help some parents obtain a truer understanding of the cause of an i
Contact: Donna J. Krupa
American Association for Clinical Chemistry