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Non Secretors and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Lewis antigens as a possible cause of sudden death of previously healthy adults and infants and of diseases and phenomena linked to tissue ischemia.

Med Hypotheses 1997 Dec;49(6):525-7

Grzeszczuk J

In persons with anti-Lewis antibodies, erythrocyte agglutination might take place during breathing of odors from secretors of Lewis antigens. The agglutinates occlude capillary vessels, increasing resistance to blood flow. This might lead to the sudden death of adults, sudden infant death syndrome or to diseases accompanied by tissue ischemia, such as migraine, glaucoma, epilepsy, etc.

This study proposes that some cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) may be the result of exposure of the non-secretor infant to Lewis antigens from the breath of secretor parents. The resulting immune reaction would then block the blood vessels leading to sudden death.

Non-secretors are almost always Lewis A positive/ Lewis B negative, whilst secretors are Lewis B positive/ Lewis A negative. Thus, Lewis B negative non-secretors can certainly produce antibodies to the secretions in the breath of Lewis B positive secretor parents. This hypothesis is not as far-fetched as it seems. Other studies have noted that the Lewis A antigen of non-secretors can serve as a point of attachment for strains of bacteria known to be implicated in the production of toxins known to result in SIDS like deaths (2,3)

The take home message? Secretor status may be something worth evaluating as a risk factor for SIDS. Sadly, I doubt any pediatric treatment facilities are currently doing this.

2.) Blackwell CC, Saadi AT, Essery SD, Raza MW, Zorgani AA, Elahmer OR, Alkout AH, James VS, MacKenzie DA, Weir DM, Busuttil A. Adhesins of Staphylococcus aureus that bind Lewis(a) antigen. Relationship to sudden infant death syndrome. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;408:95-105.

3.) Saadi AT, Weir DM, Poxton IR, Stewart J, Essery SD, Blackwell CC, Raza MW, Busuttil A Isolation of an adhesin from Staphylococcus aureus that binds Lewis a blood group antigen and its relevance to sudden infant death syndrome. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol 1994 May;8(4):315-20

The Ask Dr. D'Adamo internet advice column ran from 1996 to 2009, at which time Dr. D'Adamo's teaching and programming responsibilities no longer allowed him to devote time and resources to directly answering visitor questions. However we've recently reorganized this treasure-trove of material and made it again available to his readership. He occasionally posts new entries. These are marked with a NEW tag.

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