The Cot Death Cover-up? Paperback – 27 Feb 1997
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Dr Sprott states with certainty that the cause of crib death has been discovered: it is caused by very toxic nerve gases which can be generated from mattresses and certain other bedding used in babies' cribs. These toxic nerve gases are generated when compounds of phosphorus, arsenic and/or antimony in the bedding combine with household fungus which commonly grows in bedding.
These gases (which are all anticholinesterase agents), when inhaled by a baby or absorbed through the baby's skin in a lethal dose, shut down the baby's central nervous system, stopping breathing and then heart function. Thus the cause of crib death is not medical - it is the result of environmental poisoning. The baby can be fatally poisoned without waking and without physical struggle.
The solution is to prevent exposure of babies to the gases by wrapping mattresses in accordance with a specified protocol and ensuring that bedding used on top of the wrapped mattresses is not capable of the gas generation concerned.
Since late 1994 mattress-wrapping has been publicized nationwide in New Zealand. 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 the New Zealand nationwide crib death rate has fallen by 56% - and there has been no reported crib death among those babies who have slept on mattresses wrapped in accordance with Dr Sprott's mattress-wrapping protocol. Among the ethnic group most likely to wrap babies' mattresses (New Zealand Europeans) the crib death rate has fallen by around 80%.
These major reductions in New Zealand crib death rates cannot be attributed to orthodox crib death prevention advice (e.g. face-up sleeping). There has been no material change in that advice in New Zealand since 1992.
The toxic gas theory for crib death explains every risk factor which medical researchers associate with crib death.
A considerable amount of research relating to the toxic gas theory has been published in peer-reviewed medical and other scientific journals. In fact, mattress-wrapping for crib death prevention is supported by wider research than supported the introduction of various items of orthodox crib death prevention advice (including face-up sleeping).
According to Dr Sprott (who has a PhD in chemistry and is expert in the gas generation concerned), every step in the toxic gas theory for crib death has been proved. And the ten-year New Zealand experience provides practical proof that mattress-wrapping prevents crib death.
Some orthodox crib death researchers say that crib death rates in various countries have fallen without the introduction of mattress-wrapping - and they have. But there is a crucial difference: many babies have died of crib death where parents followed orthodox crib death prevention advice; but there has been no reported crib death on mattresses wrapped in accordance with Dr Sprott's mattress-wrapping protocol.
Unlike orthodox crib death prevention advice, mattress-wrapping has a 100% success record in crib death prevention.
Needless to say, my children are sleeping on Dr. Sprott's Mattress Covers. Since they sleep safe, I sleep well.
This is a great book, well written and easy to understand. I actually found the first chapter and got to read it before I bought the book, if you are leery about purchasing the book read the first chapter.
First Candle/SIDS Alliance has carefully followed and reviewed all studies that have been done to try and
substantiate the toxic gas hypothesis but, in short, there has been no real evidence to support the claims.
Attached you will also find additional documentation and information relative to the toxic gas hypothesis. As you will see, organizations and researchers from around the world share our position. Even
experts in New Zealand, where this theory originated, do not support the claims.
Following are some of the main points of the follow-up studies done abroad to support our position here
in the United States:
* There is no difference in antimony in babies that die of cot death/SIDS and other babies;
* Antimony is found in most babies, even before birth (before they could have had any exposure to
mattresses. It could come from maternal diet, but antimony is everywhere, including common
* No antimony was added to mattresses before 1988, and yet SIDS deaths were occurring pre-1988 at
the rate of about 2,000 per year (now less than 500 per year.)
* The year after antimony was first added to mattresses, 1989, was the year that cot deaths began to
decrease - at first a small decrease and then, after 1991 following campaigns to sleep babies on the
back, a rapid decrease - cot deaths dropped in all by over 70% between 1988 and 1995.
* The theory claims that the decrease was due to publicizing advice to wrap mattresses is unfounded:
as of 1993-1995, only 2% of babies were sleeping on wrapped mattresses; babies have also been
found to die on wrapped mattresses.
* Cot death occurs in countries where no antimony has been added to mattresses.
* When comparing babies who die and babies who live, proportionately more of the babies who live
sleep on PVC mattresses.
* According to the theory, death occurs because the toxic gas reduces acetylcholinesterase, leading
to heart failure, but post mortem examinations of babies who die shows no reduction in
* The fungus, Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, that was said to be present on all cot mattresses and which
was essential for the release of toxic gases, is actually hardly ever present on cot mattresses.
In summary, to date, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the claim that toxic fumes
resulting from a chemical reaction between bed-wetting and a flame retardant chemical used in infant
mattresses (antimony) are a cause of SIDS. According to experts both in the U.S. and abroad, the
mattress wrapping process proposed by proponents of this theory will not aid in preventing a SIDS death.
We encourage parents to avoid old and worn mattresses, especially those that may have foam or padding
exposed (increasing the potential for bacteria) or those that where indentations are made when your
hand is placed firmly on the surface.
Regarding the negative "review" and First Candle, from their website..."First Candle believes that success in saving babies' lives will be enhanced through strategic partnerships, collaboration and coalition-building. We are governed by a volunteer board of directors, employ a top-notch staff to manage our programs and services and utilize a national network of members and partners..." You can see their 2008 tax return here: http://www.firstcandle.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/return-amended.pdf Look at it carefully. They have gotten millions from the government. Two "employees" make six figures. SIDS is a multi-million dollar industry and these organizations have no incentive to find a cure. It's not rocket science.
You can listen to a forensic scientist by reading this book, or trust "strategic partnerships," and if you want to read the response regarding the claims made by First Candle, visit http://www.cotlife2000.co.nz/newpage10.htm
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) receives a great deal of coverage, particularly in pre-natal classes for parents, where the only real recommendation is to ensure your baby sleeps on it's back. SIDS is the #1 cause of death of infants between the ages of one month and one year. This is shameful, as Dr. Sprott, an experienced research chemist with a PhD in chemistry and who is an expert in his field, identified the cause of SIDS well over 10 years ago and came up with both recommendations (don't use mattresses soaked with flame retardants and other chemicals) and a very low-cost prevention option for those who couldn't, for whatever reason, make the switch (mattress wrapping using a gas-impermeable plastic covering).
This book covers all of the above and I recommend it strongly to any prospective parent or parent of babies under one year old who is concerned about SIDS and wants to take intelligent pre-emptive action to reduce the risk to their baby. That said, many SIDS groups, as another reviewer has commented, lump many different types of death for babies under the "SIDS" umbrella - ("SIDS" and "OID" - Other Infant Death) which results in some misleading statistics. Sprott is concerned only with the narrow classic definition of SID's - he does not address "OID" and the reader should understand this from the start - there is no fail-safe solution that will prevent all infant deaths.
However, research from New Zealand, where Sprott is from, indicates that since the introduction of "mattress wrapping" following the approach outlined in this book, New Zealand has gone from a country with one of the highest percentages of SID deaths in the world (2.1 deaths per 1000 live births) to a much lower occurrence, with the countrywide SIDS death rate dropping by 56%, and for New Zealanders of European origin, where mattress-wrapping has been adopted on a widespread bases, the SIDS death rate has fallen by approx. 80%. As Sprott points out in his book, these major reductions in New Zealand crib death rates cannot be attributed to orthodox crib death prevention advice (e.g. face-up sleeping) as there has been no material change in that advice in New Zealand since 1992, well before mattress-wrapping became widely prevalent.
Firstly, an overview of Dr. Sprott's theory as to the cause of SIDS: Simply put, Sprott is as positive as an experienced research chemist can be that SIDS is caused by the toxic nerve gases which can be generated from mattresses and certain other bedding used in babies' cribs. These toxic nerve gases are generated when compounds of phosphorus, arsenic and/or antimony from flame retardants in the mattress coverings and fillings combine with household fungus which commonly grows in bedding as well as with saliva from the baby's dribbling. These gases (which are all anticholinesterase agents), when inhaled by a baby or absorbed through the baby's skin, can shut down the baby's central nervous system, stopping breathing and then heart function. Only minute amounts are needed to create a lethal dose. These gases are however, heavier than air and generally trickle off the bed to the floor, which is why sleeping babies on their backs reduces the incidence (they're not breathing in toxic off-gassing) but does not eliminate (there's still skin contact).
Thus, the cause of SIDS in not medical but the result of environmental poisoning. And Sprott does a very good job of looking at SIDS incidents historically and making a comparison with the introduction of flame retardants into mattresses as a result of "safety" considerations. Sprott goes on to propound the use of gas-impermeable mattress covers ("Mattress-wrapping") to provide an impermeable barrier between the baby and the mattress, together with ensuring that bedding used on top of the wrapped mattresses is not capable of the gas generation concerned. Mattress covers are not needed if the parents are willing to sleep their baby on materials that don't contain the flame retardants which react with a common household fungus, to cause a toxic gas. However, these mattresses are usually considerably more expensive, prohibitively so for many parents, and so, mattress-wrapping is usually a more practical solution.
As a previous reviewer also pointed out, and as is made clear in the book, some "orthodox" SIDS researchers say that crib death rates in various countries have fallen without the introduction of mattress-wrapping - and they have. But there is a crucial difference: many babies have died of SIDS where parents followed orthodox SIDS prevention advice; but there has been no reported SIDS deaths on mattresses wrapped in accordance with Dr Sprott's mattress-wrapping protocol. The evidence speaks for itself in this case.
My advice: you'll find much of the information in this book summarized on the internet. If you're still not sure, buy the book - Dr. Sprott does a pretty good job with the evidence and he IS a research chemist with a PhD and considerable job experience, not just a quack out to make a few bucks. It's interesting despite this that while pretty much all SIDS organizations claim that they are researching the causes of SIDS, many of them will not even admit that the "Toxic Gas Theory" exists, and those that do usually dismiss it without carrying out their own research. The toxic gas theory explains every risk factor which medical researchers associate with crib death, and while SIDS organizations ignore it, a considerable amount of research relating to the toxic gas theory has been published in peer-reviewed medical and other scientific journals. In fact, mattress-wrapping for crib death prevention is supported by wider research than supports the introduction of various items of orthodox crib death prevention advice (including face-up sleeping).
If you're read this far and are still interested, go buy the book, it should convince you. I did, and at the pre-natal class my wife and I attended, the nurse running the course was quite happy to allow me to give my little spiel on SIDs and provide a handout to the other parents based on the content of this book. Do the same! The more widely this knowledge percolates, the greater the chances of reducing the tragedy of SIDS.