Monday, May 22, 2006

Sprott Calls for Endorsement of Mattress-Wrapping

23 May 2006



Following the release of new cot death (SIDS) statistics, cot death expert Dr Jim Sprott is calling on the New Zealand Ministry of Health, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society and other babycare advisers to immediately endorse mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention.

New statistics issued by the Ministry of Health show that since the commencement of mattress-wrapping eleven years ago, the New Zealand nationwide cot death rate has fallen by 70% and the NZ European (Pakeha) rate has fallen by around 85%.(1)

NZ Maori babies are 10 times more likely than NZ European (Pakeha) babies to die of cot death.(2) Following the uptake of mattress-wrapping by the Pakeha community over the last eleven years (and the 85% reduction in their cot death rate), New Zealand has the highest inter-ethnic cot death disparity of any country in the world.

"Pakeha New Zealand leads the world in cot death prevention," stated Dr Sprott. The Ministry of Health, Cot Death Association and Plunket Society have a duty to tell parents to wrap babies' mattresses. If parents don't receive information about mattress-wrapping, that risks the lives of babies - especially Maori babies."

Mattress-wrapping has been publicised in New Zealand since late 1994 and the practice has been widely adopted, especially among the European/Pakeha community. By the end of 1996 there had been 230 cot deaths in New Zealand on unwrapped mattresses (or parallel sleeping situations) versus nil cot deaths on "wrapped mattresses". By the end of 2000 the figure was 510 to nil. It is now around 820 to nil.(1)

"The major reductions in New Zealand cot death rates which have occurred since 1994 cannot be attributed to orthodox cot death prevention advice such as face-up sleeping," stated Dr Sprott. "There has been no material change to that advice since 1992."

The results of the New Zealand mattress-wrapping programme have been published in two peer-reviewed journals of environmental medicine.(3)

"Statisticians at the University of Munich have calculated that the proof that mattress-wrapping prevents cot death exceeds the level of proof achieved by DNA testing," stated Dr Sprott. "The results of the New Zealand mattress-wrapping programme far exceed the results of any other cot death prevention programme, anywhere in the world."


(1) Source of statistics: New Zealand Ministry of Health (final statistics to 2001; provisional statistics for 2002 and 2003; progress counts for 2004 and 2005).

(2) NZ Maori cot death rate: 2.0 deaths per 1000 live births; NZ European/Pakeha cot death rate: 0.2 deaths per 1000 live births.

(3) Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 2004;14(3):221-232. Zeitschrift fuer Umweltmedizin 2002;44:18-22.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

SIDS Prevention Products

There are tons of SIDS prevention products on the market. Do they work?

Most frequently seen are sleep sack type "blankets" which are blankets that the babies wear. These are supposed to help prevent SIDS because of the misunderstanding that using blankets leads to SIDS deaths. On the contrary, cotton blankets are perfectly okay for use, especially in regards to SIDS prevention. You should avoid using polyester or polyester filled blankets such as a comforter. The most beneficial part of the sleep sack pictured, the Halo Sleep Sack, is that on the front of the sleep sack is an emblem reminding the caretaker to place the baby on his or her back. While I do not have statistics as to how well these work, if your baby is sleeping on a mattress that is not covered with a BabeSafe mattress cover, the inherent SIDS risk has not been removed, and it doesn't matter what you cover your baby with.

Another more commonly marketed product is a breathing/movement monitor which alarms the parents or caretaker if the baby does neither within about 20 seconds. There are a number of problems with these. First of all, the alarm does go off for no reason. Second, while it might be a great tool for babies suffering from sleep apnea or other medical problems, once a baby is in a state of "SIDS" they cannot be revived. At the point the monitor goes off to alert the parent, it is too late. Do they prevent SIDS? No.

Another product on the market is the Amby Baby Hammock. Interestingly enough, the Amby Hammock was not originally created for SIDS prevention. It has, however, produced interesting results as far as SIDS prevention. With about 25,000 Amby Hammocks sold worldwide, there have been no known cases of SIDS in Amby Hammocks. While Amby officials do not understand fully why this is, they do attribute the success in the fact that it is impossible to place babies on their backs and for babies to turn on their backs in the Amby Hammock. Also, and more importantly, their mattresses have not been treated with fire retardants, a known cause of toxic gases in mattresses. The mattress cover is 100% cotton, eliminating the danger found in mainstream mattress protectors which can also produce toxic gases.

Finally, the most economical and successful product, the BabeSafe mattress cover. Like the Back to Sleep campaign, use of the BabeSafe mattress cover is based on the toxic gas theory. While "Back to Sleep" helps prevent babies from breathing in toxic gases, the BabeSafe mattress cover prevents the gases from getting into the baby's breathing space to begin with. The mattress cover slips over your current baby mattress and comes in six sizes to accommodate various bassinets, co-sleepers and cribs. The success of this product has been astounding, and actually proves scientifically that the toxic gas theory is the single cause of SIDS. This is an important product for ALL families with babies, but especially for families who have babies that do not sleep well on their backs. With the BabeSafe mattress cover, it is perfectly safe to place your baby on his or her tummy to sleep. This is because the toxic gases are not permeating through the cover, allowing baby a gas-free sleeping zone whether he is on his back, side, or stomach. This is difficult for people to accept if they do not believe in or do not want to accept the toxic gas theory. These people still contend that babies should not sleep on their stomachs because SIDS has a medical reason that causes cessation of breathing when babies are placed on their stomachs. If this were true, babies would have died sleeping on their stomachs on a wrapped mattress, but they have not.

When it comes to SIDS prevention, you must do your research to figure out exactly what you are getting when you want to keep your baby safe. Every company is going to tell you the positives, and sometimes they are a stretch. Don't be misled by the hype, and always use your common sense and researching abilities to find out as much as you can before you hand your money over!