Seizures Revealed as Potential Cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome after Landmark Study

NEW YORK, NY – After years of research, a study published in the journal Neurology reveals a potential cause for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Doctors believe that brief seizures accompanied by muscle convulsions could be responsible for these tragic and unexplained deaths that affect thousands of families in the United States each year.

The lead researcher, Dr. Laura Gould of NYU Langone, stated that their study, though small, provides the first direct evidence linking seizures to sudden deaths in children, which often occur during sleep. SIDS, also known as “crib death,” typically affects infants under 6 months old, while older children may experience sudden unexplained death, also known as SUDC.

The research team at NYU established the SUDC Registry and Research Collaborative after Dr. Gould lost her 15-month-old daughter to SUDC in 1997. They studied over 300 SUDC cases, examining medical records and video recordings of babies sleeping. In seven cases, the deaths were likely caused by seizures, with convulsions lasting less than 60 seconds and occurring within 30 minutes of the child’s death.

The study’s senior investigator and neurologist, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, noted the potential implications of this discovery, suggesting that studying convulsive seizures in these tragic deaths could also provide critical insight into other conditions like SIDS and epilepsy. Past research has already found a link between SUDC and seizures, particularly febrile seizures accompanied by fever.

While this breakthrough sheds light on a potential cause of SIDS, further research is needed to fully understand how seizures can lead to these tragic deaths. Another recent study identified low levels of a blood enzyme, butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), as a potential cause of SIDS, further enhancing our understanding of these devastating events.