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Did a Seattle Doctor Find the Cause of SIDS?

Could damage to the inner ear be the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)? One Seattle doctor is trying to prove just that, hypothesizing that the part of the inner ear that controls balance and movement is dysfunctional in babies who die of SIDS, according to Yahoo Parenting.

As explained by Yahoo parenting, when these babies experience a buildup of carbon dioxide and a lack of oxygen, which can occur with the common cold, they lack the ability to rouse themselves awake and escape the effects of the deadly gases. A healthy baby without prior existing inner-ear damage isn't likely to be affected by such buildup.

Daniel Rubens, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Seattle Children's Hospital, is working on research to show that SIDS is associated with inner ear damage.

"We are studying infants that look and seem healthy and who sleep in safe conditions, but for some reason, these babies die in their sleep and an autopsy and investigation has determined no obvious cause of death," he said.

Rubens hopes to be able to create a test that can help parents identify inner-ear damage, and thus take special precautions to avoid SIDS.

MORE: Co-Sleeping Increases SIDS Risk

Common risk factors associated with SIDS, a medical phenomenon that causes 4,000 deaths a year and has stumped doctors since its discovery, are thought include bed-sharing, soft bedding, being exposed to secondhand smoke, or sleeping in overheated conditions. SIDS usually occurs in babies under one year old while they are asleep.

In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents to ensure their babies sleep on their backs, and not on their stomachs, alone in a crib with no bedding. Since then, SIDS rates have fallen by 50 percent.

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Image via AlexanderN/Flickr

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