SIDS (Crib Death) Been Found?
Denied Crucial Findings
Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome. These four words can incite
a considerable amount of terror in a parent of an
infant. Sudden infant death syndrome
(SIDS), also known
as crib or cot death, is the number
one cause of death for infants from one month to one
year of age. 90% of all
deaths are in babies under six months old. Ongoing SIDS
research occasionally leads to discoveries of risk
factors associated with these deaths, but after almost
50 years, researchers say they still do not know how or
why it happens. The prevailing official viewpoint on
is that the cause is unknown (SIDS
It may seem
inconceivable that over a million babies have died of
this "syndrome", and after almost half a century and
many millions of dollars spent, no one in this age of
science and technology can tell us why. But what parents
are virtually oblivious to (through no fault of their
own) is that a highly convincing explanation for this
tragedy has been found, along with a simple means of
eliminating it. This explanation is backed by a
significant amount of evidence, but has been and
continues to be completely ignored by
organizations, the medical community, and the government
- for a variety of reasons, including politics,
financial liability, and vested interests. Publication
of these findings continues to be denied and suppressed.
The result is that babies continue to be at risk from
deaths that may easily be prevented.
Toxic Gases in Mattresses
Dr. Jim Sprott, OBE,
a New Zealand scientist and chemist, states with
certainty that crib death is caused by toxic gases,
which can be generated from a baby's mattress. Chemical
compounds containing phosphorus, arsenic and antimony
have been added to mattresses as fire retardants and for
other purposes since the early 1950's. A fungus that
commonly grows in bedding can interact with these
chemicals to create poisonous gases (Richardson 1994).
These heavier-than-air gases are concentrated in a thin
layer on the baby's mattress or are diffused away and
dissipated into the surrounding atmosphere. If a baby
breathes or absorbs a lethal dose of the gases, the
central nervous system shuts down, stopping breathing
and then heart function. These gases can fatally poison
a baby, without waking the sleeping baby and without any
struggle by the baby. A normal autopsy would not reveal
any sign that the baby was poisoned (Sprott 1996).
In spite of denial
and opposition from orthodox
no research has disproved this gaseous poisoning
explanation for crib death. No valid criticism of this
explanation has ever been provided. This logical finding
explains every factor already known about crib death,
and is backed by scientific research (Sprott 1996, 2000)
and eight years of practical proof consisting of a crib
death prevention campaign that continues in New Zealand.
continues to support these findings. A four and a half
year study by the Scottish Cot Death Trust published in
the British Medical Journal (November 2, 2002) has shown
that the re-use of infant mattresses triples the risk of
cot death (Tappin 2002). Dr. Sprott explains that the
risk of death increases when mattresses are re-used from
one baby to the next because the fungus has already had
a chance to establish itself in the used mattress. When
the next baby uses the same mattress, the fungus is soon
active. Toxic gas production begins sooner and is
generated in greater volume. It is known that
rates increase markedly from the first baby in a family
to the second, and from the second to the third, and so
on (Mitchell 2001). Dr. Sprott warns, however, that new
mattresses can also be unsafe because fungal growth can
quickly become established in a new mattress once a baby
begins sleeping on it (Sprott 2003).
solution is urgent action to eliminate all sources of
phosphorus, arsenic and antimony from all mattresses.
But this is not happening now, and is not likely to
happen anytime soon, so exposure to these gases must be
prevented. The intervening solution is to prevent babies
from being exposed to the gases by wrapping mattresses
in a gas-impermeable cover made from high-grade
polyethylene and ensuring that bedding used on top of a
wrapped mattress does not contain any phosphorus,
arsenic or antimony.
A 100% successful
crib death prevention campaign has been going on in New
Zealand for the past eight years. Midwives and other
healthcare professionals throughout New Zealand have
been actively advising parents to wrap mattresses.
During this time, there has not been a single
death reported among the over 100,000 New Zealand babies
who have slept on mattresses wrapped in a specially
formulated polyethylene cover. The number of crib
deaths in New Zealand that have occurred since
mattress-wrapping began in 1994 is about 550. The number
of crib deaths that have occurred in New Zealand on a
properly wrapped mattress is zero.
In early 2002, a
German doctor published the results of the New Zealand
mattress-wrapping campaign, including statistical
analysis carried out in conjunction with the University
of Munich (Kapuste 2002). The statistics showed that the
proof of the validity of mattress-wrapping for crib
death prevention was one billion billion times the level
of proof generally accepted by the medical community as
proving a scientific proposition.
Prior to the
commencement of mattress-wrapping, New Zealand had the
highest crib death rate in the world (2.1 deaths per
1000 live births). Following the adoption of
mattress-wrapping by many parents in New Zealand, the
New Zealand crib death rate has fallen by 48% (NZHIS),
and the Pakeha (non-Maori) crib death rate has fallen by
an estimated 75% (King 2001). Pakeha parents have
adopted mattress-wrapping with enthusiasm. "These
reductions cannot be attributed to orthodox cot death
prevention advice," said Dr Sprott. "There has been no
material change in that advice since 1992. The only
significant change in cot death prevention advice, which
has occurred since 1994, is the nationwide dissemination
of my recommendations to wrap babies' mattresses."
Parents Are Denied Findings
So why isn't this profound
and critically important information making the
headlines of major newspapers or all over the evening
news? Why aren't crib death researchers and the
government of the United States telling parents to wrap
babies' mattresses? Why are the manufacturers still
adding fire retardants and other chemicals to
There are various
reasons, but one possible reason is that mattress
manufacturers are required to use fire retardants
through government regulations. Admitting that these
chemicals are causing deaths would mean admitting to
major liability. Furthermore, crib death research has
been a significant source of funding for medical
researchers in the U.S. Crib death research funding has
nearly stopped in New Zealand as more people become
aware that mattress-wrapping is easy, cheap and 100%
successful in preventing this tragedy. Unfortunately,
the ongoing complex and expensive research that leads to
the discovery of "risk factors" for a so-called
"syndrome" has pushed aside the simple and inexpensive
solution of mattress-wrapping; a solution that can do no
The Cot Death Cover-Up? (Penguin books, NZ,
1996), by Dr. Jim Sprott, reveals the amazing story of
denial on the part of crib death researchers and the
medical community, and the failure of these entities to
accept such a simple explanation. Dr. Sprott first
suggested a toxic gas theory for crib death in 1986, and
in 1989 Barry Richardson of Britain, also a consulting
chemist acting independently, publicized outstanding
research proving the finding. In response, the British
government set up expert committees to investigate the
findings. One committee published the Turner Report,
which recommended the removal of the chemicals from baby
mattresses and for babies to be tested for antimony. A
second committee published the 1998 Limerick Report,
which is frequently cited by SIDS organizations as
finding no evidence to substantiate the claim that toxic
gases cause crib death. Contrary to this publicity, the
Limerick Report did not disprove the theory (Fitzpatrick
1998) - in fact, it provides further confirmation of it
The main orthodox
crib death prevention recommendation is to put babies to
sleep on their backs. We know that babies do still die
when sleeping on their backs, although face-up sleeping
does reduce the risk. The gases are denser than air and
tend to settle in a thin layer directly on top of the
mattress, so babies sleeping face-down are more likely
to inhale a lethal dose of the gases. The gases are also
absorbed through babies' skin, and this is one of the
major reasons why face-up sleeping provides only partial
protection against crib death (Sprott 1996).
However, no babies
have died sleeping on a properly wrapped mattress. This
is crucial information for parents. Eight babies
continue to die every night in the United States from
Parents should be provided with the information so that
they are able to decide for themselves whether they want
to wait for the
research organizations or the government to endorse
mattress-wrapping or to "play it safe" as many parents
have done in New Zealand. As Dr. Sprott points out and
no one has denied, "All New Zealand crib deaths since
mattress-wrapping began in late 1994 have occurred when
parents have not wrapped their babies' mattresses. An
inexpensive, non-toxic protective cover can surely do no
The assumption that
our government agencies do everything they can to
protect our children is naive. The U.S. Consumer
Products Safety Commission has stated that
BabeSafe mattress covers do not constitute any
safety risk to babies. These covers (manufactured in New
Zealand) are the only mattress covers designed to
protect babies from toxic gases generated in mattresses.
Yet even though BabeSafe products are simple,
inexpensive, and safe, the FDA requires the manufacturer
to go through the expensive, complex, time-consuming
procedure of obtaining pre-market approval in order for
BabeSafe covers to be bulk imported into the U.S.
Instead of putting
unnecessary hurdles in the way of a harmless and
potentially live-saving product, why don't the
authorities endorse mattress-wrapping in the U.S. to see
if the results achieved in New Zealand could be
duplicated here? The score in New Zealand is now 550
deaths (orthodox crib death prevention advice) to none
(mattress-wrapping). With so many more babies born in
the U.S. than in New Zealand, the potential to save
lives is dramatically greater - thousands every year.
Why should even one baby be denied something that could
potentially save his or her life? Fortunately, parents
order the mattress covers to have them sent directly
from New Zealand to their home.
Sheppard is the editor of Healthy Child, a comprehensive
newsletter and website for parents about natural health
for children. Jane helps to empower parents to make
informed choices to protect the health and well-being of
their children. She is the author of
Super Healthy Kids: Strengthening Your Child's Resistance to Disease.
Jane can be reached through her website at
Fitzpatrick, M.G. 1998.
and The Toxic Gas Theory (letter), New Zealand
Medical Journal, October 9, 1998.
Kapuste, H. 2002. Giftige Gase im
Kinderbett ("Toxic Gases in Infants' Beds"),
Zeitschrift fuer Umweltmedizin No. 44; January-April
King, M.P. and Hon, A.F. 2001. New
Zealand Minister of Health, correspondence, April.
Mitchell, P.R. 2001. Analysis of
Official UK Statistics for Cot Deaths and Infant Deaths
by Other Causes, 1996-1999.
New Zealand Health Information Service (NZHIS),
Official New Zealand Cot Death Statistics.
Richardson, B.A. 1994. Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome: A Possible Primary Cause. Journal of
Forensic Science Soc. Jul-Sep; 34(3):199-204.
SIDS Alliance. 2001.
Sprott, T.J. 2000. Critique of the 1998
UK Limerick Report.
Sprott, T.J. 1996. The Cot Death
Cover-Up? Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Books.
Sprott, T.J. 2000. Personal
communication with an officer of the Ministry of Health.
August 11, 2000.
Sprott, T.J. 2000.
Research Which Confirms and
Supports the Toxic Gas Theory For Cot Death
Sprott, T.J. 2003. The Cause of Cot
Death and How to Prevent It, Cot Life 2000, March
Tappin et al, Used infant mattresses and
sudden infant death syndrome in Scotland: case-control
study, British Medical Journal 2002; 325:1007