River’s Gift continue to develop and strengthen our relationships with important research partners, that one day will see the eradication of SIDS
River’s Gift have partnered with the University of South Australia in seed funding a PhD student to undertake a 3-year genetic research project, specific to sudden and unexplained death in infants (SUDI).
The project commenced in April 2019 and involves investigating whether X-linked genes are linked to reduced Substance P (SP) NK1 receptor expression in SUDI cases.
Collaborative Research Partnership
In 2014, River’s Gift formed a research funding partnership with the world-renowned “Kinney Laboratory” in Boston, USA. Since the formation of this partnership, we have funded three (3) early-career researchers to undertake SIDS research studies under the specialist supervision and guidance of Professor Hannah Kinney, Professor Richard Goldstein and Professor Robin Haynes.
The Kinney laboratory at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School has compelling evidence from four non overlapping databases studied in the last 25 years that the majority of SIDS infants have abnormalities involving the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) in regions of the lower brainstem (medulla oblongata).
In this region 5-HT is an important chemical messenger involved in the control of breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and arousal.
Thus abnormalities to this system could lead to malfunction of the vital centres and an inability of the SIDS infant to respond to life-threatening stressors during sleep. During waking, other neurotransmitters help govern vital functions, but sleep may “unmask” the serotonin defect, resulting in sleep-related death.
Between April-September 2018, River’s Gift partnered with Latrobe University, Safe Sleep Space and Soteria Safe Sleeping Advice in conducting an ethics approved Safe Sleep and Settling Knowledge survey. The survey was conducted amongst more than 2,000 Australian participants and, disturbingly, it was found that there were substantial shortfalls in safe sleep and settling knowledge amongst portions of the participant cohort. The research paper is currently in development, with anticipation for it to be published in late 2019.