Data scientists and researchers from nine countries are partnering on an initiative to uncover the causes of sudden or unexplained infant deaths (SUID).

The project is being led by Seattle Children’s Hospital and Microsoft‘s AI for Good programme and coordinated by the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Foundation.

The aim is to find out factors leading to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is the leading cause of death of infants aged one month to one year in the US and other developed nations.

Though the collaboration is still in its early stages, it claims to have made several breakthroughs, including the discovery that maternal smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of SIDS by 22%.

The researchers have also found that SUID is not a single risk factor and that infants who die within a few days of birth have a different genetic profile and different risk factors from those who die later.

The partnership is also working to develop genetic tests that could identify infants who are at risk of SIDS.

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The researchers claim that their work will continue to lead to new prevention, diagnostic and treatment options for infants at risk of SIDS.

Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Foundation co-founder John Kahan said: “When we initially convened a summit six years ago, hosting a group of ten data scientists and medical researchers, I never imagined that more than 140 experts from around the world would ultimately come together to collaborate on an issue that every new parent worries about, and far too many have had to deal with personally.

“It has spurred new breakthroughs in the fight against SIDS and other unexplained infant deaths, with more on the horizon.

“We are confident that this work will continue to translate into prevention, better diagnostics and potential therapies to prevent infants from succumbing to SIDS.”