Photo credit: Julie North Photography
The AP reported Monday on the latest US research on SIDS.
Using a fan to circulate air seemed to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in a study of nearly 500 babies, researchers reported Monday. Placing babies on their backs to sleep is the best advice for preventing SIDS, a still mysterious cause of death.
Experts also recommend a firm mattress, removing toys and pillows from cribs, and keeping infants from getting too warm.
Such practices helped slash U.S. SIDS deaths by more than half over a decade to about 2,100 in 2003. But SIDS remains the leading cause of death in infants ages 1 month to 1 year.
"The baby's sleeping environment really matters," said study senior author Dr. De-Kun Li of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "This seems to suggest that by improving room ventilation we can further reduce risk."
"... a still mysterious cause of death. " This really ticks me off. It's no mystery. Of course a fan would help, and I'll tell you why.
I used to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, from 2001 to the end of 2005, and an article describing some SIDS research in New Zealand came to the center. Here is an undated article describing the New Zealand findings and the results (the most recent article referenced is from 2003).
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 SIDS is that the cause is unknown (SIDS Alliance 2001).
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.
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).
Here's the kicker (emphasis in the original):
A 100% successful crib death prevention campaign has been going on in New Zealand for the past 11 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 SIDS 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 810. The number of crib deaths that have occurred in New Zealand on a properly wrapped mattress is zero.
In New Zealand they have a solution. In America they keep saying they're not sure what works.
If you have a baby, or if you plan to have another one, look to New Zealand for the answer to keep your baby sleeping and breathing.
You can go here to order a BabeSafe mattress cover, manufactured in New Zealand, or go here to order a non-toxic crib mattress. I have no financial interest in either company.