(WGHP) — Taylor Gardner never shies away from talking about her baby boy Killian.
“He was the happiest baby I ever saw,” she said. “13 weeks I held him. I loved him. He was my world.”
Five years ago, at just 13 weeks, Killian died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes SIDS as the unexplained death of healthy babies in safe sleep environments.
“I did everything they said. Sleep on his back, give him a pacifier, do this, do that,” Gardner said. “And then something takes him you can’t fully protect him from.”
The CDC reports about 1,300 babies died of SIDS in the U.S. in 2019. Researchers in Australia recently found babies who died of SIDS had a lower level of an enzyme in blood samples collected shortly after birth than those who died of a known cause. Scientists say the enzyme plays a crucial role in regulating the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions such as breathing.
Some on social media praised the findings as a “game-changer” and said it marked the end of SIDS.
Doctors caution that is not true.
“Scientists are continuing to study the cause of SIDS because, obviously, our hope would be that we could eliminate it,” said Dr. Kaye Gable, director of the Pediatric Teaching Program for Cone Health. “This is one avenue of study that may lead us to a better understanding of babies who are at risk for it.”
Dr. Gable describes the small proof of concept study as progress but cautioned a lot more SIDS research is needed before doctors could screen for it and potentially prevent it.
Dr. Gable feels confident scientists will get to the bottom of SIDS one day. In the meantime, she urges families to focus on what they can control by putting babies to sleep on their backs, in a crib or in a bassinet that is free of blankets, bumpers and toys.
According to Dr. Gable, unsafe sleep practices is the main reason infants die in a sleep environment.
“We don’t’ need to make mothers feel like they can’t go to sleep at night,” Dr. Gable said. “That is absolutely the wrong thing to do.”
As for Gardner, she is holding close the precious memories of her son and hopes this study is the start of something much bigger.
“There might come a day where I’m going to hopefully live to see it, that they’re going to be able to prevent it, and nobody’s ever going to have to know this again,” Gardner said.