Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a mysterious and cruel killer, taking otherwise healthy babies and toddlers in their sleep. For years, nobody has been able to point to the cause of the tragedy, but Dr. Daniel Rubens believes he is close—very close. Rubens has been researching possible causes of SIDS for the past 11 years and he has discovered a link to an undetected, inner-ear dysfunction. Rubens believes that this inner-ear damage means that these babies lack the trigger that tells them to reposition themselves or, in many cases, they are just too young to sit up or move enough. Instead of being able to move around and resume breathing, the babies suffocate. This notion came from an earlier research study into SIDS deaths, which indicated the link to infant hearing problems, and post-mortem studies have revealed bleeding and extensive damage in the inner ear following a SIDS event. The solution? Rubens is working toward research that would call for earlier hearing tests for babies—within 48 hours of birth—with stringent follow-up exams for babies who score low on their initial testing. With early detection and treatment, Rubens hopes that we can one day eradicate SIDS, which currently causes 4,000 infant deaths each year in the United States.

via Seattle Times

Image via Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times