SIDS: Sudden Infant Death "Syndrome"
Lendon H. Smith, MD, with Joseph G.
June 6, 2000
Originally published in the
Townsend Letter for Doctors
and Patients Aug/Sept, 2000
This article summarizes the book
The Infant Survival Guide: Protecting Your Baby from the
Dangers of Crib Death, Vaccines and Other Environmental
Hazards, by the same authors. It is currently being
published by Smart Publications, Petaluma, CA.
We propose a new
conventional paradigm, or system of thought about crib
death, assumes the cause is unknown; and preventing it is
hopeless; that SIDS is multifactorial, that several
mechanisms can function, possibly several at the same time.
Further, that no one of these may be fatal, but a
combination can kill; and that one can only lower the risk
and offer sympathy afterward. This approach to crib death is
a cop-out and a failure.
The New Paradigm
(A) SIDS has one primary cause, which we
identify, noting a very few exceptions.
(B) And we present the preventives that have
achieved 100-percent success; whence the title: VICTORY OVER
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is an
unexpected infant death, after which thorough autopsy and
examination of the death scene and circumstances at time of
death reveal no identifiable cause of death. SIDS risk
begins about two weeks after birth. It is the leading cause
of death in months one to six, declines rapidly after a peak
in the third month when the immune status received from the
mother is ebbing, and is rare after a year of age.
"SIDS" is faulty, for two reasons.
(1) A syndrome is "the aggregate of symptoms
associated with a disease condition." In crib death the
only symptom is death itself. The "syndrome" designation
opened the door for well-paid specialists to enjoy a nice
lifestyle while investigating various "risk factors" -- but
ignoring the actual cause.
(2) The term "sudden" also is inapplicable;
we show that certain precipitating events make crib death,
and sometimes its probable date, predictable.
Before World War II, unexplained infant
deaths were unusual. But after 1950, the governments of
nearly all the rich industrialized countries (regarding
Japanese practice, see later) required treatment of baby and
child mattresses with flame retardant chemicals. Phosphorus
and antimony were most commonly used; arsenic was sometimes
added later as a preservative.
well-intentioned measure was counterproductive in two ways.
(1) American SIDS deaths ballooned 400-fold;
the toll has since declined.
(2) Among knowledgeable observers, it is
well known that the number of baby deaths in residential
blazes multiplied. Statistical evidence, unfortunately,
is not available.
The mechanism of death is identical in both
types of tragedy: the generation of extremely poisonous
gases from the chemicals that had been added -- in all
innocence. First, with regard to SIDS. Common, ordinarily
harmless household fungi such as Scopulariopsis brevicaulis
and certain microorganisms consume the phosphorus, arsenic,
antimony, added as fire retardants and plastic softeners.
In consuming the chemicals, the fungi emit
the heavier-than-air neurotoxic gases based on phosphine
(PH3), arsine (AsH3) and stibine (SbH3). These gases are
about one thousand times more poisonous than carbon
monoxide, which can kill a person in a closed garage with a
running engine. They are about as toxic as Sarin, used in
the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and in a Tokyo terrorist subway
poisoning in 1995.
In probably the worst environmental disaster
of the 20th century, these toxic gases have killed about
one million victims of SIDS worldwide. Gas generation
starts when a mattress, containing both the chemicals and
the fungi, is warmed to body temperature in contact with the
baby. Perspiration, dribble, urine, vomit, body heat and --
as we shall see, critically important -- high (alkaline) pH
enable the fungi to grow and generate gas rapidly.
If a mattress contains any antimony, for
example, there is invariably more than enough, when
converted to stibine, to kill a baby. Breathed for an
extended time even in minute quantity, these nearly odorless
gases can interrupt the choline/acetylcholine transfer of
nervous impulses from the brain to the heart and lungs. That
shuts down the central nervous system; heart function and
breathing stop. For another proposed mechanism of toxic gas
death, see later.
Most of these gases (phosphine is an
exception, details below) remain in a thin layer on the
baby’s crib and diffuse away. But if enough gas accumulates
to a fatal dose, the parents know nothing of it until their
terrible discovery, typically the next morning. The
attendant psychiatric morbidity from needless guilt
reactions is enormous. Every parent of a small baby or
parent-to-be is wondering, "Will my child become a
statistic? Will he/she have to die because of something I
did or did not do?" Older children are less at risk because
the gases cause them to develop a headache and call for
help. For physiological reasons, adults are not put at risk
by such gas generation. As to how these gases kill in house
conflagrations, see later.
A fever, the God-given mechanism for killing
dangerous organisms, can become a two-edged sword. A rise in
the temperature of mattress and bedding in contact with the
baby from 98.6 F to 104 F can make the fungi more active and
thus increase toxic gas generation tenfold or more. Many
boy babies have a faster metabolic rate and inhale a greater
volume of air than girls, and their slightly higher
temperature causes fungi to generate gases more rapidly. The
result is higher SIDS risk: in one study, the SIDS rate for
boys was 30 percent higher than for girls.
In some cases, fungal growth in PVC,
polyvinyl chloride, a soft plastic commonly used as the
mattress covering, was associated with development of a pink
stain in the shape of the sleeping infant. Such mattresses
were always found to be generating one or more of the gases.
(Richardson asked, "Must babies still die?") Pink stain
often results from, and demonstrates presence of, this type
of fungal growth. There is even a reference in the Bible to
pinkish mildew, and a health warning given (Leviticus 14:B).
To prevent crib death, an appropriate
gas-impermeable barrier is needed between mattress and baby.
An inexpensive slip-on mattress cover called
BabeSafe® -- invented by New Zealander T.J. Sprott, PhD
-- came to market in New Zealand in 1996. Among one hundred
thousand or so babies sleeping on this/these product(s)
there and elsewhere, not one crib death has been
reported.   An equally successful alternative is
to wrap the entire mattress using thick, clear polyethylene
plastic; see instructions with supply details at the end of
BabeSafe® is obtained, or when its use might not be
feasible as while traveling, mothers can reduce (but not
eliminate) the risk of SIDS by elevating the head end of the
crib an inch or two, letting any of these heavier than air
toxic gases flow to the foot end -- and dissipate away to
the floor. A rolled towel prevents the baby from
sliding. According to an informal test reported in the 1960s
by an American metropolitan newspaper, that procedure
prevented any crib deaths. We could not track down the
source. The result, mysterious at the time, is now readily
explained by the research outlined above. Also, ensure that
baby sleeps face up. A bassinet with impervious sides would
The fungal generation of arsines in
conditions of mildew has been known for well over a hundred
years. This killed thousands of children in Europe in the
1800s; the Italian analytical chemist Gosio discovered its
cause in 1892.  Dr. Sprott proposed a toxic gas
explanation for SIDS in 1986. He is a consulting chemist
and forensic scientist; his success, notably in certain
criminal cases, earned him great fame and respect in New
Zealand. In 1989, Mr. Barry A. Richardson, a widely
published British consulting scientist and expert in
materials degradation, independently came to the same
conclusion, and then further refined and elaborated the
connection to crib death in the early 1990s.  Dr.
Sprott, who generously cooperated with us in writing our
book and this article, corroborated and strengthened the
argument in 1996 in his compelling book,
Cot Death Cover-up?, cited above.
Also in 1989, British nonprofessional
researcher Peter Mitchell, deeply concerned at the high SIDS
rate in Britain, made a further landmark discovery. Studying
records of hundreds of cases, he found that the risk of crib
death doubles from a mother’s first baby to her second and
doubles again from the second to the third baby. Others had
noticed this factor, but couldn’t explain higher SIDS risk
among a mother’s later babies.
The Toxic Gas Explanation for SIDS makes it
quite clear: the fungal spores are established during prior
use; and so gas production starts sooner and in greater
volume. Mr. Mitchell also found that infants of poor single
mothers, typically young and immature, have previously used
mattresses and bedding because they cannot afford new ones.
Because of this and the high stresses of daily living, they
have seven times greater risk than babies of wealthy
parents, who almost always buy new mattresses and bedding
for their babies.
Similarly, in Taiwan from 1988 to 1992,
babies born second to fourth were 70 percent more likely to
die of SIDS than the first; risk for fifth or later babies
was up 130 percent. The authors of this report didn’t
know about toxic gases, and so they couldn’t understand
their finding. Only the toxic gas hypothesis can explain
these statistics -- which almost certainly apply to such
countries as the U.S. and Canada.
The two discoveries, (1) One hundred percent
BabeSafe® and (2) the doubled, then quadrupled risk in
subsequent babies, appear to destroy theories blaming SIDS
on vaccinations (see later), poor nutrition, rebreathing of
CO2, or any medical cause. Also, as Dr. Sprott explains, the
totality of our knowledge about SIDS makes it clear that
there is only one cause.
As would be expected if toxic gases are the
true cause, reducing babies’ exposure to them lowered crib
deaths. This is why face-up sleeping reduced SIDS by
removing the baby’s face somewhat from the mattress.
Toxic gas output from infants’ mattresses declined rapidly
in Britain after Mr. Richardson publicized his hypothesis in
June 1989, and again in December 1994 after he and Dr.
Sprott dramatized the problem in "The Cook Report," a
highly-rated program on BBC television. Parents bought new
mattresses that lacked the potential for toxic gas creation,
or properly wrapped old ones. Manufacturers quietly began to
remove the chemicals, which fire safety regulations had
required. Before that, the SIDS rate in Britain had been
rising; it had reached a tragic new peak in 1986-88 when
more phosphorus was added to baby mattresses. It fell
for the first time immediately after Richardson’s 1989
The ongoing, first-ever decline in Britain’s
SIDS rate accelerated in December 1991, after
"Back-to-Sleep" publicity urged parents to put babies to
sleep face up.  The toxic gas hypothesis explains
the nearly worldwide drop in crib deaths, which followed
that campaign. Incidentally, New Zealand was the first
country to make face-up sleeping a national program, after
research there proved its effectiveness. Some babies are
known to have rolled from side to prone before dying.
Yet, many SIDS victims have died sleeping face-up. The
London Stationery Office reported, of 305 SIDS babies put to
bed face-up, 105 were found dead still lying face-up.
This refutes the claim that face-up sleeping is the answer
SIDS incidence in Britain (0.7 per thousand
live births) is now 70 percent lower than 1986-88, when it
was 2.3 per 1,000. It is slightly below the rate of about
0.75 per thousand (totaling about 3,000 a year, on average,
around eight now-avoidable SIDS tragedies every night) in
America, where parents follow advice of health agencies to
varying degrees. As explained below, there are many more
crib deaths on each weekend night than each weeknight.
The British Limerick Commission investigated
and rejected the toxic gas hypothesis. When read
carefully, state Mr. Richardson, Dr. Sprott and Dr. Michael
Fitzpatrick, the tests reported in the commission’s
analysis clearly confirm the hypothesis -- as
demonstrated by the success of proper mattress wrapping and
BabeSafe® (not one crib death). But the Commission’s
final condensed summary, the only report that citizens and
physicians read, did not accurately state those findings.
The commissioners, who were already biased against the
theory, knew that revealing the truth could subject the
British government to millions of pounds in liability
lawsuits. Such lying for financial reasons, sadly, is the
rule rather than the exception throughout medicine and
The facts sketched out above will surprise
the "experts" who for years shouted "Back to Sleep."
Sleeping face up is a partial solution because it makes the
baby less likely to inhale heavier-than-air toxic gases
generated in the mattress, and that fact explains the
worldwide decline in SIDS after the "back to sleep"
campaign. But it is far from the total answer, mainly
because babies can also absorb the toxic gases, especially
phosphine, through their skin. Also, phosphine is only
slightly heavier than air, and so a baby can die from
inhaling that gas despite sleeping face up. Babies have
died of SIDS in almost any position; one died in his
mother’s arms. Our interpretation: when she picked her
baby up, he was already dying from gas exposure.
Evidence Supports the Toxic Gas Explanation.
(a) After near misses, monitors of breathing
and heartbeat confirm the described sequence of events.
And in SIDS autopsies, evidence of lasting cerebral hypoxia
(severe lack of oxygen in the brain) both before and after
birth corroborates the mechanism.  (See proposed
additional mechanism, below.)
(b) The body tissues of crib death babies
and the mattresses on which they died contain high
concentrations of antimony, the source of stibine gas,
whereas bodies of babies who died of other causes and
non-SIDS inducing mattresses contain little or no detectable
antimony.  Remnants of phosphorus and arsenic are
always present in the body naturally, and so tracking them
is not meaningful.
(c) The hair of living babies contains 10 to
100 times more antimony than their parents’ hair,
demonstrating that they were exposed to gas generated from
their mattresses. And about 95 percent of 200
consecutive SIDS babies in a 1989 test sample died on used
(d) The decline in SIDS in Britain, cited
above, itself powerfully supports the toxic gas explanation.
Extension of the Toxic Gas Theory.
Repeated, at times severe, episodes of
hypoxemia (insufficient aeration of arterial blood) or
asphyxia, or both, occur in infants who are at increased
risk for SIDS.  Cyanosis, blue color of lips and
nail beds, which is very common in SIDS victims, results
from lack of enough oxygen.
Hypoxia is an abnormal condition resulting
from a decrease in oxygen supplied to or utilized by body
tissues. Derrick Lonsdale, MD, calls it hypo-oxidative
metabolism; it kills tissues. "Any cell (except
erythrocytes, red blood cells) made hypoxic for a sufficient
period is irreversibly injured."
"Regarding injury to the brain,
neuroscientists use the terms hypoxia and ischemia
interchangeably ... . [Ischemia is a lack of oxygen-carrying
blood flow in an organ or tissue.] In local ischemia, cells
in the center of the ischemic zone are damaged most rapidly;
cells in the surrounding fluid (the ischemic penumbra)
receive some oxygen from other blood vessels and thus are
The killing of tissue leading to SIDS can
take the form of apoptosis, i.e. programmed cell suicide, or
"cellular hari-kari," which is commonly associated with
diseases of aging. Apoptosis wreaks greater damage at higher
body temperatures. That fits our proposal, below, that
inhalation of toxic gases -- concentration of which is
higher with a fever -- initiates apoptosis possibly leading
to crib death. Cells at the center of the hypoxic area can
die, instead, by necrosis, i.e. rupturing and spilling the
cellular contents into the extracellular fluid.
Karen A. Waters, MD, et al, at Montreal
Children’s Hospital found neuronal apoptotic cells in 79
percent of 29 SIDS victims they examined, but in no control
cases. Apoptosis in two to three percent of neurons can
signify a cell regression rate of 25 percent per day;
they found apoptosis in more than 20 percent of such cells,
implying rapid cell death. Dr. Waters continues, "In SIDS
victims, neuronal loss has been reported in the brainstem
arcuate nucleus, a region thought to be involved in
control of respiration ... And we found significant neuronal
apoptosis in the nucleus of the tractus solitarius, a region
involved in autonomic and respiratory control [i.e. in
making breathing an ‘automatic’ process not requiring
"Repeated episodes of hypoxemia first lead
to confirmed neuronal apoptosis in select vulnerable brain
regions. Then comes the disappearance of a significant
number of cells, and eventually impaired function."
Inhalation of ammonia from the baby’s feces can aggravate
hypoxia/hypoxemia. Ammonia combines with and inactivates
carbon dioxide; the baby needs free CO2 to trigger the
Dr. Waters’ research team found evidence of
an unidentified serious insult, probably within 24-48 hours
of death. Conventional (Paradigm 1) researchers have long
written of hypoxia causing crib death, but they have not
always studied its sources. We propose that the referenced
insult is inhalation of toxic gases night after night. This
offers a plausible mechanism of death, concurrent with that
presented earlier: interruption of choline/acetylcholine
transfer of nervous impulses from the brain to the heart and
lungs. If this toxicity destroys the nerve function, the two
explanations become one.
Apoptosis, interestingly, is also an
important homeostatic, health promoting process during
central nervous system development. 
Hypoxia also promotes formation of tiny,
electrically imbalanced particles known as free radicals
(also called oxidants). A free radical is an atom or atom
group carrying an unpaired electron in its outer ring; as a
result, free radicals are unbalanced and highly reactive.
They dart about the body damaging cells; and any molecule
they meet, in turn becomes a free radical, potentially
starting a chain reaction that could damage tissues and
perhaps cause SIDS.
Other free radicals reach our bodies through
toxins in the air, water, and food, or are generated inside
us as part of our defensive response to infection or other
stress. In excess, they promote diseases of all kinds and
aging.  An antioxidant molecule donates an electron
so as to quench a free radical.
All this valuable research is helpful, but
it does not explain the ultimate cause. As Dr. Sprott points
out, what is it that brings all these conditions about? They
do not just happen! The common thread is the poisoning, and
all the symptoms and findings reported above are completely
explained by gaseous poisoning with a "nerve gas."
The toxic gas explanation therefore casts
new light on poorly understood aspects of these unmitigated
family tragedies. Crib death is most common in
industrialized countries where baby mattresses contain any
of the three listed chemicals. In countries such as Japan,
Hong Kong and the Pacific Islands, people use for their beds
either chemicals-free cotton or simple woven floor mats.
Fungi are ubiquitous. But without chemicals to consume
-- either artificially added or naturally present in bedding
-- the fungi create no toxic gases. Preservatives and fire
retardants in Japan use safe boron; SIDS is slowly rising
there as parents adopt Western style mattresses and
Toxic gases arise from sheepskins and other
"natural" bedding such as tea-tree bark fibers, which are
widely used throughout Australia and New Zealand. The New
Zealand Cot Death Study, 1987-90, found that half of all
crib deaths occurred on sheepskins. Depending on the
soil on which the sheep graze, their skins can contain
phosphorus, arsenic and/or antimony, often in high
concentration. Tea-tree bark normally contains phosphorus,
since the trees excrete toxins into their bark.
Recent research, presented for the first
time at the SIDS 2000 conference (Auckland, New Zealand,
February 2000) by professor Bill Cullen from University of
British Columbia, proved the generation of an arsine from
sheepskins containing arsenic. The sheepskins tested were
provided to Dr. Cullen by Dr. Sprott, who had obtained them
from parents who had lost to SIDS babies sleeping on the
very same sheepskins.
Poor nutrition has never been proved to
increase SIDS risk, and good nutrition, including
breastfeeding, has not been proved to lower SIDS risk.
Mothers who start bottle-feeding early typically live in
low-income families and re-use baby mattresses. (Note:
Massive intake of vitamin C to stamp out SIDS -- see later
-- was chemical, not nutritional.)
Proponents of nutritional theories relate
incidence to geographical areas and census data showing low
and high levels of one or more nutrients. But they have not
suggested a realistic manner in which death would occur: the
guillotine, which does the actual killing. Regions with
higher concentrations of dietary iodine, e.g., appear to
have lower SIDS risk than areas with less dietary
iodine. Similarly, low dietary thiamine has been
blamed.   Derrick Lonsdale, MD, halted babies’
apneas and prevented what he judged to be inevitable SIDS
deaths by supplementing thiamine. In a letter he told of
a baby who nearly became a SIDS casualty from a slow carbon
monoxide leak, which would have killed but for being turned
Correlation doesn’t prove causation, and
epidemiological findings prove nothing. Epidemiology is the
study of all the elements contributing to the occurrence or
non-occurrence of a disease in a population. Proof of any
nutritional theory of SIDS would require:
(1) Collection of tissue samples from SIDS
babies and from infants who died of known causes.
(2) Consistently lower iodine (or thiamine,
etc.) would have to be found in the SIDS autopsies.
(3) A mechanism would have to be proposed
(4) Most difficult: in light of Peter
Mitchell’s findings given earlier, crib death risk caused by
such nutrient deficiency would have to be consistently twice
as high in a mother’s second baby and twice as high again
for her third baby. In fact, most families maintain their
nutritional practices about constant throughout their
(5) And the reason for insufficiency of a
nutrient to cause such upward steps in risk would have to be
proposed and supported.
Poor nutrition tends to accompany low-income
status, and that leads to re-use of fungus-infected bedding.
In California, SIDS incidence in 1972 ranged from 0.5l among
Chinese and Japanese Americans who consume iodine-rich
seaweed, to 5.93 among Native Americans who ingest little
iodine.  One could reason that the incomes of the
Oriental Americans were much higher than the Native
Americans’ and that they therefore didn’t resort to used
But then, a U.S. map of SIDS mortality in
1984 showed incidence at least twice as high in the Pacific
Northwest as in California and the Pacific Southwest.
That would be difficult to explain on the basis of family
incomes. Harold Foster, PhD, shows that areas of low
selenium, including the Northwest, are areas of high SIDS
risk. There still is no mechanism of killing.
So the explanation advanced by Mr.
Richardson, Dr. Sprott, and Mr. Peter Mitchell, and our
enlargement of the theory do not clarify everything. But
they may explain over 95 percent of crib deaths.
There can be
(1) Iron overload can "literally tear apart"
babies, both of whose parents have hemochromatosis. 
Disease organisms and cancer microbes feed on iron, a potent
catalyst for generation of extremely damaging free radicals
-- and starve without it. And so iron-heavy infant
formulas and iron drops can cause truly sudden death in
event of botulism, which might not otherwise be serious.
 High tissue iron concentrations may also lower
resistance to fever and gas-promoting infection in babies
not protected against the gases, and raise susceptibility to
tissue damage throughout life. This mechanism of killing
isn’t related directly to the nutrient or toxin.
(2) Microwave warming of breast milk, baby
formula and baby food weakens their infection-protective
features, adversely affects the blood,  and could
make baby more susceptible to a given level of toxic gases.
Microwaving also generates free radicals. Resulting
fevers would increase concentration of toxic gases.
(3) Excess sodium or unusually high
concentrations of poorly absorbed manufactured thiamine,
folic acid and vitamin B12  have been found in crib
death autopsies. High lead levels have been reported in
BabeSafe® or proper mattress wrapping would appear to
circumvent each of these possible mechanisms.
Smoke residues from American cigarettes are
"laced with sugar and dupe the gut into expecting food,
triggering insulin release." (Japanese and South African
cigarettes, among others, do not contain sugar and toxic
additives.  The late, renowned internist and
cardiologist Moses M. Suzman, MD, of Johannesburg confirmed
the statement about South African cigarettes and said that
South African blacks, despite heavily smoking unfiltered
cigarettes, do not develop lung cancer.) The smoke
residues inactivate certain enzymes and induce peroxidation
(formation of excess hydrogen peroxide) in the baby’s blood
plasma, or the cadmium in cigarette smoke catalyzes
oxidation in the babies’ lung tissue when there is a
deficiency of vitamin E and selenium. Either mechanism
makes babies more susceptible to gaseous death if the
mattress is generating the gases. 
Maternal smoking associates itself with
higher SIDS risk in not properly protected shared beds:
relative risk was 9.25 (95% confidence intervals 2.31 to
34.02). (Babies of mothers who smoked were over nine
times likelier to be victims of SIDS than those of
nonsmoking mothers. Confidence intervals are a statistical
BabeSafe® cannot protect babies against other damage
inflicted by cigarette smoke.
In Britain, smoking was much more common in
the 1930s-1940s than now. But crib death was virtually
non-existent, because fire retardant chemicals weren’t added
to mattresses until after the war. In Russia and Yugoslavia,
despite heavy parental smoking SIDS scarcely exists. Rubber
sheeting and cotton mattresses do not permit toxic gases to
form and reach the baby. Also, Russian parents have long
swaddled babies heavily to keep them immobile, while they go
off to farm or factory. Such wrapping would increase
SIDS risk through gas generation if the babies were exposed
to it (see below).
The apparent link between smoking and SIDS
is, however, in large part simply an association. Crib death
has a strong socio-economic bias and so does the incidence
of smoking. There is little if any cause-and-effect
association. Smoking is more prevalent in lower
socio-economic groups, and these people are also more likely
to use old, pre-used mattresses.
The Experts Reverse
In 1995, Anne-Louise Ponsonby, PhD, found
that sleeping on the back or side with a quilt increased
SIDS risk nearly fourfold -- supposedly through smothering.
Blankets and pillows "can mold to baby’s face." So the
authorities did another about-face; they now say to remove
bedding from sleeping areas and dress the baby warmly.
But such overwrapping could multiply SIDS
tragedies in two ways. Smothering is extremely rare among
babies, including those put to sleep face down. Head turning
in sleep is developmentally regulated even in prematurely
born babies; they rarely assume face down positions. But
many quilts contain phosphorus and/or antimony, and most are
seldom washed. So they can be infested with the same
gas-generating fungi discussed earlier, increasing risk in
that way -- and further clarifying the report. Also,
blankets can trap toxic gases.
Fever, as well as breathing crises,
created by vaccinations may recur at predictable
intervals,  increasing risk on those days if the
mattress is generating the gases. Among babies sleeping on
BabeSafe® or on a properly wrapped mattress, however,
any fevers from vaccinations do not cause crib death because
these infants are not exposed to toxic gases. Vaccination
practices among the 2½ million Pakeha (Caucasians) in New
Zealand are slightly less, now, than American practice. Many
but not all Pakeha parents use
BabeSafe® or properly wrap mattresses. The crib death
rate is about four times higher among Maori and Pacific
Island families, who vaccinate far less than the
Pakeha. If vaccinations directly caused crib death, the
proportions would be reversed.
(1) Bed sharing with parents, often called
co-sleeping, has always been the typical sleeping
arrangement in countries such as Bangladesh. SIDS is about
one fiftieth as common in most underdeveloped countries as
in rich countries. Instead of, e.g., 0.1 percent it could be
0.002 percent. In millions of families, parents and
babies sleep together on chemicals-free cotton or woven
floor mats. But in Western countries, adults’ mattresses can
contain the same chemicals as their children’s, and the
ubiquitous fungi can generate the same toxic gases.
(2) Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from
electric blankets -- even when turned off, but connected to
house circuits -- and other electrical devices and electric
wiring in or near the bedroom increase incidence of SIDS
deaths.  This they probably do by lowering babies’
ability to survive a given gas concentration, and any
resulting fevers would promote greater gas generation.
Extremely low EMFs and ELFs have also been designated
Many waterbeds, like many babies’
mattresses, are made of polyvinyl chloride, which often
contains phosphorus and antimony -- the sources,
respectively, of toxic phosphine and stibine gases. They are
heated, promoting toxic gas generation. And they, too,
expose the sleeping parents and baby all night to EMFs.
(3) Geopathic stresses, which are taken more
seriously in China and Europe than in America, increase
incidence of crib death. Magnetic radiations rising
constantly through the earth are normally benign and promote
good health. But on lines at the surface -- extending upward
through higher levels of buildings -- where these rays have
passed through underground water channels, metal or oil
deposits, caverns, tunnels, etc., the stresses can be very
dangerous.  Although only about 12 inches wide,
such stress lines are estimated to cover perhaps two percent
of the Earth’s surface.
Among more than 25,000 sick European people
who were surveyed, 95 percent of those with cancer or AIDS,
a high proportion of patients with multiple sclerosis, 95
percent of 3,000 learning-disabled children -- and 80
percent of babies who died of crib death -- had a single
factor in common: geopathic stress.  This
information merits serious consideration by the medical and
Such stress makes an unprotected baby more
susceptible to toxic gas poisoning by
(a) stimulating physical chemicals cascades
within the brain; 
(b) potentially causing mutations in the
cells and damaging the baby’s genetic code, known as DNA; or
(c) interfering with the melatonin/nitric
oxide system in the baby’s brain, which controls the
cardiovascular system. The electromagnetic stresses are
very tiny; the infant brain, but not an adult brain, appears
to lift their amplitude in a paroxysmal discharge.
Any of these mechanisms can weaken immunity.
This can lead to fevers, promoting gas generation in the
beds of babies not protected against gases, and "may explain
clusters of infant deaths over large geographical areas,
occurring during or shortly after successive days of
geomagnetic pulsations." If micropulsations increase on
weekends due to decrease in the cultural use of power
frequencies (fewer industrial machines operating), the
previously mysterious 42 percent higher incidence of crib
deaths on Saturdays and Sundays than on weekdays
appears to be explained.
A baby whose bed is on an earth stress line
will seem unusually crotchety or constantly creep to one
corner of the crib, or both. Ann-Louise Ponsonby, PhD, and
her associates, in a four-year study of crib deaths in
Tasmania (Australia), found that "infant usually moved a lot
during sleep" brought a relative SIDS risk of l.7.
Dowsing for geopathic stress lines, out of doors or in any
building, is simple but probably unnecessary: Just move
the infant’s bed to another part of the house, or another
side of the same room. 
Dr. Sprott emphasizes that re-breathing of
carbon dioxide does not cause SIDS. All babies exhale CO2.
If re-breathing caused crib death, the rate would be similar
Countries, and would not have changed
throughout mankind's history. CO2 is an important trigger of
respiration,   helping the baby to minimize
risk of apnea/hypopnea. Moreover, all babies exhale a
similar amount of CO2, regardless of whether they are first,
second, or later babies. Therefore, the rising rate of crib
death from one sibling to the next refutes the theory that
rebreathing of CO2 causes crib death. Researchers who
blame re-breathing of CO2 appear to mistake poisoning by
stibine or phosphine, or both, for asphyxiation by CO2.
More than 90 percent of SIDS babies have had
upper respiratory infections shortly before death,
 a far higher proportion than among controls.
Resulting fevers can again promote gas generation in the
beds of babies who are not protected against the gases; high
room temperature and facedown sleeping increase risk that
way too. Similarly, overdressing -- now officially endorsed
-- creates hyperthermia and traps gases generated in a
Another consideration could reinforce the
above and clarify Ponsonby’s discovery that blankets and
pillows can "mold to baby’s face." Carpenter and
Shaddick found many babies had died with their mouth and
nose covered by bedding. Another early report told of
"signs of a brief noiseless struggle, such as disturbed
bedclothes and fibers under the fingernails." And
Richardson reported in 1990, "The first symptom of gas
poisoning is headache, which results in irritability and
dislodgment of bedding." The already dying baby,
perhaps sensing he is inhaling poison, could try to use the
covers or pillow as a gas mask, seeking futilely to protect
himself from -- toxic gases.
SIDS incidence is double in the parts of
Austria above 700 meters altitude compared to those under
500 meters. And in Sweden, outdoor temperatures below
the annual mean of 5.9oC (42.6oF) -- primarily in
October-February, much more in unusually cold years -- in
combination with a sudden decrease in temperature, are
associated with SIDS. At colder temperatures, due to
either altitude or weather, parents wrap their babies more
firmly, increasing risk of gas generation and trapping,
probably explaining the finding. The Swedish report
also mentions hyperthermia as a potential SIDS cause, but
without the toxic-gas mechanism, which explains it.
Crib deaths have been reported after a
mother gave her baby aspirin. The infant becomes
crotchety from a headache caused by the toxic gases; the
aspirin drugs her baby to death.
Mercury fillings or
dentist-installed root canals
in the mother’s mouth potentially create infections
anywhere in her body and can promote fever-generating,
toxic gas promoting infections in the baby. 
Placing or removing mercury fillings during pregnancy can
worsen SIDS risk: during the procedure the mother inhales
and swallows mercury. Drinking-water fluoridation may
increase risk of Down syndrome and crib death; 
perinatal deaths were 15 percent higher in fluoridated parts
of Britain than in unfluoridated areas. A possible
mechanism: fluoride atoms appear to carry viral particles
and increase their ability to penetrate tissues; this
would increase risk of fevers leading to higher toxic gas
In a near miss resulting from sublethal gas
exposure, or seen after a SIDS death, inhalation of the
toxic gases often causes small red blotches under the skin
known as petechiae. These can appear after vaccinations as
well. In a dozen cases referenced by Viera Scheibner, PhD,
the vaccine damage has been so severe as to give the
appearance of physical shaking. As a result, parents have
been wrongly accused of smothering or murdering babies.
One young mother was crushed and
heart-broken after her baby died at 10 days of age from a
birth-caused maladjustment of the neck; upper cervical
vertebrae were out of correct order. The problem, identified
later by a non-physician analyst, could have been corrected
and the baby’s life saved by a ten-second chiropractic
adjustment. The mother was forced to perjure herself by
confessing murder, and then was imprisoned. This kind
of lawyers’ abuse, doubtless engaged in to advance their
careers, is common. Correctly recorded, the case would not
qualify as "sudden infant death syndrome."
Recently in the UK, a lawyer mother was
convicted of murdering her two babies, who had died of crib
death. An "expert" told the court the chances of two crib
deaths in one family were about one in 73 million. What
utter rubbish! The only relevant statistic is the relative
risk of a crib death in a family where there has already
been a crib death: about six to ten times the going crib
death rate. Sometimes, a distraught parent or caregiver does
shake a baby causing fatal injury.
Pursuing their own agendas and pressured by
big-money interests, SIDS researchers and health authorities
in the U.S. and Canada have suppressed publication of Mr.
Richardson’s, Dr. Sprott’s, and Mr. Mitchell’s research
findings. William Campbell Douglass, MD, outlined the toxic
gas explanation in his monthly Second Opinion.
Why? The editor-in-chief of a well-known
American pediatric journal recently wrote, "The apnea
monitoring business has become a religion. More people are
living off of SIDS than dying from it." Although proved
to be of no benefit, apnea monitors are still promoted and
widely used, causing needless stress on parents and
He didn’t mention at least hundreds of
investigators who expensively study risk factors and propose
preventive strategies, while ignoring toxic gases. They will
have difficulty justifying new grant requests after the
cause and preventive are accepted as what we show they are.
Such technicians admit their findings are worthless,
 yet they continue to collect voluntary "Red Nose"
contributions. In New Zealand, though, Dr. Sprott so
discredited the Red Nose Day collection that it is no longer
held. And that editor-in-chief didn’t mention the SIDS
support groups’ salaried employees.
Now the cover-up has gone worldwide.
The Sixth International SIDS Conference was held in
Auckland, New Zealand in February 2000. But the program
committee totally ignored Dr. Sprott’s 100% successful crib
death prevention campaign. Eventually they altered the
program timetable to let him speak. His talk ended in uproar
among the delegates, and many walked out of the hall in a
fury. Dr. Sprott was berated by the chair of the session --
a crib death parent -- who lost her temper and shouted him
On January 26, someone had sabotaged his web
site. Instead of information about toxic gases and
BabeSafe®, there were two paragraphs. The first stated
the toxic gas hypothesis; the second cited a failed
"refutation" in Human Experimental Toxicology, written by an
Do those people "living off of SIDS" really
want to prevent the terrible family tragedies of crib death?
They solicit money for conferences, research programs, and
enjoyable trips to nice places like Auckland at Americas Cup
time. Naturally, they screamed and shouted at Dr. Sprott in
the conference when he presented incontrovertible proof
toxic gases are the cause of crib death. He was threatening
to derail their gravy train. The previous conference was in
the French resort town of Rouen, and the next will be in
Florence, Italy -- all expenses paid, of course.
"We must remember, though, that the reaction
was the same to Semmelweis after he showed doctors’ failure
to wash their hands caused deaths in childbirth. After
Edward Jenner developed an inoculation for cowpox. After
Linus Pauling elucidated the importance of vitamin C. All
were howled down by the medical orthodoxy of their day, yet
today the discoveries they made are accepted as fact
Dr. Jim Sprott summarizes. "Not only has the
100% successful five-year practical application of the toxic
gas explanation for crib death proved that the explanation
is correct. It also explains all the epidemiology, with no
conflict. In other words, it appears to be the total answer
to a problem that has confounded hundreds if not thousands
of researchers for more than 30 years, at a cost of hundreds
of millions of dollars.
"And it was all discovered and proved by a
couple of consulting chemists, entirely at their own
expense. Why chemists and not medicos? Because crib death
has nothing to do with medicine or pediatrics or even the
babies; it is caused by the babies’ environment. These two
environmental scientists figured it out as soon as they
became interested in the topic."
This killing of babies by poison gas while
concealing the evidence and withholding news of the
100-percent preventive, despite warnings by knowledgeable
scientists, reminds us of the Nazis’ gas chambers at
Auschwitz. Then, the sin was one of commission. In the
present case, omission: failure to institute a proven
We saw that a 5½-degree (Fahrenheit) climb
in temperature of the mattress and bedding can increase gas
generation 10-fold. Temperatures and gas generation could
increase much more in a fire; how much higher the
concentration would rise depends on the ability of the fungi
to survive high temperatures. The gases might kill a baby
even before flames reach his room.
When inserting fire retardant chemicals into
babies’ mattresses causes death in home fires and through
SIDS, why do chemical companies continue to do it? Could
this be -- like chlorination and fluoridation of drinking
water, and like placement of toxic mercury in millions of
people’s mouths -- a profitable way to dispose of excess
waste materials using people as garbage cans, rather than
pay for proper destruction of the wastes? After this article
and our book properly and fully expose all this, will
chemical companies dare continue these practices in the face
of potential class action lawsuits?
And as we said earlier, SIDS is unusual in
Japan, where preservatives and fire retardants use boron.
Can’t mattress-makers substitute safe boron for the three
materials from which dangerous gases are generated?
Mass vaccinations increase SIDS risk
among babies who are not protected from toxic gases, and
create worse lifetime health.   In large
parts of Australia, "routine immunization campaigns" in the
early 1970s tripled infant mortality to the genocidal level
of about 500 per thousand, of which a "high" proportion was
crib death. Yet vaccines are only an indirect SIDS risk
factor for babies who are exposed to the toxic gases, and
not at all a risk factor for babies not so exposed. Vaccines
themselves probably kill some babies. Many deaths in the
first month of life after DPT vaccinations are automatically
labeled SIDS; no count is kept. Including them, the
total SIDS incidence is higher than officially reported. DPT
is diphtheria/pertussis (whooping cough)/tetanus.
But those who blame vaccines for SIDS have
ignored toxic gases, or rejected the theory after
study. In general, vaccinated babies die or become
deathly sick because, unprotected against these gases, the
vaccine-created fevers increase generation of the gases --
both immediately and at known intervals afterward.
Also, the infections can lower babies’ tolerance of any
given concentration of gases. Vaccinations also increase
toxic gas exposure and SIDS indirectly -- again for babies
not protected against the toxic gases -- by weakening
immunity and increasing fever-generating diseases including
asthma. As do antibiotics.
The death rate from the disease hepatitis B
for unvaccinated American children is about 5 x 10-7; deaths
immediately after hep B vaccination are about 6 x 10-5 --
about 120 times higher. And vaccination side effects
(including SIDS-promoting fevers) requiring emergency
treatment or hospitalization are 20-fold higher than those
causing death; similar hep B debilitations are about 10-fold
higher than the hep B death rate. Moreover, adverse
reactions appear to be vastly underreported; formal
long-term studies of vaccine safety have not been started,
let alone completed. Regardless of this far higher
threat -- even greater, if unreported or unrecognized side
effects are considered -- from the vaccine as compared to
the illness, hepatitis B vaccinations are "automatically"
given to newborns in American maternity wards. And they are
required for admission to many public schools. All this
in a battle against a disease to which children are not at
For genetically vulnerable children, the
live-virus MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine, used since
1977, appears to promote autism. Twelve children had GI
(gastrointestinal) problems but were otherwise progressing
normally; they became autistic one to 16 days after
MMR. A complex web of reactions in the gut including
"leaky gut" makes the brain "leaky" too.  The
so-called blood brain barrier -- which scarcely exists in
fetal life -- derives from the same embryonic origin as the
gut epithelium, where 60 percent of the body’s immune cells
operate. Even in later life, it doesn’t protect the brain
nearly as well as was long thought; it can be modulated in
an ongoing way to respond to environmental stimuli.
Andrew Wakefield, MD, the conventional
British gastroenterologist who published this research feels
he cannot turn back, despite heavy medical and public health
resistance and reprisals. Reprisals commonly consist of
denial of future research grants. A seemingly low-grade,
long-term immune reaction precedes the devastating
condition, autism. Moreover, movement analysis has now
enabled diagnosis of autism in children three to four months
old, long before the age of 15 months when MMR vaccines
are administered -- and well within the age of
susceptibility to SIDS. There is another side to autism; see
Appendix at the end of this document.
Massive doses of ascorbic acid prevented
crib death for about 25 years with or without vaccinations
in the practice of Frederick M. Klenner, MD, of
Reidsville, North Carolina.  Archie Kalokerinos,
MD, accomplished the same feat in outback New South Wales,
Australia. After worldwide appeals, no baby given the
Kalokerinos/Klenner regimen (health program) is known to
have died. The acidity of ascorbic acid in the baby’s
urine, sweat, dribble, etc., appears to counteract the
alkalinity that the ubiquitous fungi require in the babies’
beds for toxic gas generation.
And so the treatment was chemical, not
nutritional. Sadly, aboriginal babies who are vaccinated and
treated with Western drugs, and aren’t protected from the
toxic gases, are again dying "suddenly." But certain doctors
around Australia prevent SIDS, attention deficits, and
short-term "side effects" by dosing with ascorbic acid for
two weeks before, on the day of, and for two weeks after
vaccinations. This does not, of course, prevent
long-term harm of vaccines. Ascorbic acid is one important
segment of the natural vitamin C-complex.
Dr. Lendon Smith
offers his counsel: Wise parents will consider
avoiding vaccinations, or at least postponing shots until
baby is a year old, when SIDS risk drops. "The best advice I
can give to parents is to forgo the shots, but make sure
that the children in your care have a superior immune
system. This requires a sugarless diet without processed
foods, and an intake of vitamin C of about 1,000 milligrams
per day for each year of life up to 5,000 mgs at age five.
Plenty of fruits and vegetables are important, plus
powdered, dried fruits and vegetables picked when ripe and
flash frozen. They have the protective anti-oxidants."
Developmental pediatrician Mary Megson, MD, adds low-dose
cod liver oil, as we saw, for natural-source vitamin A
before MMR if parents choose to accept the vaccination, to
lower the risk of developing autism.
"And," continues Dr. Smith, "if you as a
parent are unable to ward off the pressure from your doctor,
at least give your child some fortifying nutrients the day
before, the day of, and the day after the shot: vitamin C,
one to two grams; vitamin B6, 100 mgs; and calcium, 1,000
mgs. You are the guardian of your child’s health. You have
Sidebar: American parents in all states but
two (West Virginia and Mississippi) can have their children
excused from "immunizations," including hepatitis B
administered at birth. Visit Joseph Mercola, DO’s web site
at www.mercola.com; Parents who are not themselves connected
to the Internet may be able to reach the web site at their
Children given three or more courses of
antibiotics in the first year of life when SIDS risk is high
had a 400 percent increase in their long-term risk for
asthma. Among babies who are not protected against toxic
gases, fever-promoting asthma elevates risk of SIDS. The
asthma risk decreased to 225% if only one or two courses of
antibiotics were given in the first year, and 64% in those
for whom antibiotics were used only after the first
year.  Also, children given more than 20 cycles of
antibiotics over their lifetime are 50% more likely than
others to suffer developmental delays including autism and
speech and language problems.
Pediatricians administer these drugs to
children mostly to cure fever-creating inner-ear infections
(otitis media, OM). Not only are antibiotics unsuccessful
against such usually viral infections,  they do
not allow the child to develop his immune system; they
weaken immunity, promote development of resistant organisms,
and further OM itself. Tubes in ears have been called
Moreover, 75-80 percent of these infections
-- the fevers of which promote gas generation and risk of
crib death among unprotected babies -- may result from
allergies and food hypersensitivities typically incited
by pasteurized, homogenized cow milk or wheat. 
Such reactions can have other causes; among these are
traumatic emotional episodes and habitual
overbreathing, which can also cause asthma. Learned correct
breathing can often cure the asthma and sometimes dispatches
allergies, among many other health problems.
Still another factor: Researchers in
Edinburgh, Scotland, found that infants less than six months
old who lived in homes with air fresheners experienced 30
percent more ear infections (and also 22 percent more
episodes of diarrhea) than babies not so exposed. From the
air freshener they inhaled volatile organic compounds such
as aldehydes, xylene and ketones.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
worsens SIDS risk in at least two ways: (a) The agency has a
phobia about ultraviolet light and warns people to avoid any
direct exposure; but in fact, moderate sun exposure promotes
good health. A healthy baby, with fewer infections,
will be less likely to suffer fevers that could promote
toxic gas generation unless protected against the gases.
(b) The Surgeon General and the EPA promote
reduction of radon gas in homes. Risk of lung cancer is
related to radon concentration, but the correlation is
negative: more radon, less lung cancer and presumably lower
risk of SIDS among babies unprotected against toxic
gases. The same relationship, known as hormesis --
which has been revolutionizing health physics for the past
50 years -- applies to small intakes of pesticide residues
and the like.
And so, with some exceptions, pediatricians
and the authorities that promote and urge mass vaccinations
and other unwise measures -- unintentionally increasing crib
death -- join chemical companies as the devils of the piece.
Developmental pediatrician Mary Megson, MD,
greatly strengthens autistic children’s condition, using a
variety of treatments including, most importantly, the RDA
level of natural source vitamin A in cod liver oil. (Natural
cod liver oil also supplies important omega-3 essential
fatty acids and vitamin D.) After starting this single
supplement, many aphasic children start talking, begin to
exhibit more socially appropriate behavior, and experience
other health benefits. A variety of other researchers
study specific areas of nutrition, digestion and toxicity;
all those "causes" are secondary or tertiary matters
resulting from the children’s extreme toxicity levels.
THE INFANT SURVIVAL GUIDE. Protecting Your Baby from the
Dangers of Crib Death, Vaccines and Other Environmental
Hazards, by the same authors presents the content of
this article and much more, in greater depth, in easier
language, and with many more supporting references. We have
sought to create the definitive guide to ending the terrible
tragedy of crib death. To maintain objectivity, the authors
of this paper and our book neither receive nor need, nor
would we accept, research funding of any kind.
Copyright © 2000 by Joseph G.
7031 Glen Terra Court SE
Olympia, WA 98503-7119 - (360) 491-1164
Dr. Lendon Smith, MD -
Note: This document
presents research information; it should not be construed as
Originally published in the
Townsend Letter for Doctors
and Patients Aug/Sept, 2000
This article summarizes the book
The Infant Survival Guide: Protecting Your Baby from the
Dangers of Crib Death, Vaccines and Other Environmental
Hazards, by the same authors. It is currently being
published by Smart Publications, Petaluma, CA.