How Much Sleep Does A 16 Yr Old Boy Need Prevention of SIDS – Consider Toxicity of Crib Mattresses

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Prevention of SIDS – Consider Toxicity of Crib Mattresses

Is there a link between toxic crib mattresses and SIDS?

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to prevent SIDS. Typical advice for preventing SIDS is to put the baby to sleep on its back on a firm mattress, avoid thick, fluffy pads, pillows or stuffed animals and keep the baby from overheating. This is good advice; however, there is an additional factor in SIDS prevention that you may not be aware of. The ongoing SIDS prevention campaign in New Zealand publicizes the link between SIDS and mattresses. This campaign advises parents to wrap their babies’ crib mattresses in a gas-tight cover to prevent babies from being exposed to toxic fumes from the mattresses.

A theory linking SIDS and mattresses suggests that deadly toxic gases released from crib mattresses can poison babies while they sleep. Toxic gases are created by the interaction of fire retardant chemical compounds with a fungus that commonly grows in mattresses and bedding. The baby inhales and absorbs the gases, shutting down the central nervous system and stopping breathing and heartbeat. Toxic gases are denser (heavier) than air, so the gases released from the mattress float directly over the mattress and diffuse towards the floor. This explains why sleeping face up protects against SIDS. Babies who sleep face up are less likely to inhale a lethal dose of toxic gases. But gases can still be absorbed through the skin.

How has the mattress wrapping campaign affected SIDS prevention in New Zealand? To date it has been 100% successful. It began in 1995 and during that time there have been no SIDS deaths among over 196,000 New Zealand babies who slept on mattresses wrapped in polythene. The number of SIDS deaths in New Zealand that occurred between 1995 and 2010 is about 920. However, there were no deaths in New Zealand from a properly wrapped mattress.

Although the findings have not been scientifically proven, they have not been disproved either. Definitely needs more research. But the current evidence, as well as common sense on the matter, is too strong to deny. The fact that this information is not widely disseminated is puzzling, but it may have to do with politics, stakeholder interests, and accountability.

I have been following this campaign for over 10 years and I am amazed that more research is not being done on SIDS prevention and mattresses. This is due to a misleading report published in the UK in 1998 which claimed that there was insufficient evidence to support this theory. Most SIDS organizations have closed the book on this. It is unlikely that there will be more research anytime soon, so parents are left to decide whether or not to take action.

Regardless of the validity of the poison gas and SIDS link, the following applies to cribs and mattresses. Typical crib mattresses contain polyurethane foam, made from petroleum, covered in vinyl and loaded with toxic fire retardants, chemical plasticizers and biocides. Chemical plasticizers and fire retardants can leach from vinyl mattress covers into the air that babies breathe while they sleep. Beds can emit formaldehyde and other VOCs. Young babies should not inhale these toxins, which are known to cause neurological, respiratory, reproductive or immune problems.

If you’re concerned about toxic gasses in crib mattresses and SIDS prevention, or simply your baby being exposed to toxins, it’s best to buy a firm, organic crib mattress that doesn’t contain any toxic materials. Why not proceed with caution and common sense and ensure your baby’s sleep environment is free of harmful chemicals during the most vulnerable period of brain and immune development? There is too much at stake to wait for all the research to be done. Safe, non-toxic organic mattresses are readily available.

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