SIDS and mattresses

Most of you have probably heard about SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The shocking, the horrible, and the horror of this is overwhelming. The views I am about to express are from my own personal studies about the subject matter. I am sorry for anyone who has experienced a loss of a child. I have seen it first hand and it is absolutely horrible. I have read a lot about this subject matter and I am hoping to shed some light on the subject matter thoroughly.
Here are a few corelations I have tried to connect with SIDS.
Babies who have recently recieved vaccines prior to SIDS. 
I have studied infants and vaccines related to SIDS, and it doesn’t seem to have a correlation because both babies have suffered SIDS. Although some of the chemicals in the vaccines in which they are administered can overwhelm a tiny baby’s immune system. For more in depth about infants and vaccines click here
Babies who have been switched to formula feeding prior to SIDS.

There are cases of both formula fed infants and breast fed infants who have suffered from SIDS, so there could be a slight connection (possibly) but not strictly the cause of SIDS.

Babies who sleep on baby mattresses. 

When I tried to think of something that all babies have in common, is that they sleep in cribs, on crib mattresses. After all, SIDS used to be called “crib death,” this is a striking connection that I have found in studying about SIDS.Prior to the 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 70%, and the Pakeha (non-Maori) crib death rate has fallen by an estimated 85% (NZMH). Pakeha parents have adopted mattress-wrapping with enthusiasm. “These reductions cannot be attributed to orthodox cot death prevention advice,” says 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.” 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.

Why should babies sleep on their backs now?

Now, according to many websites and many doctors, one of the rules about SIDS is thus:Your baby’s risk of SIDS is very high any time he sleeps on his side or stomach. (A baby placed on his side can roll over on his stomach.) These positions put your baby’s face in the mattress or sleeping area, which can smother him. So, every time you put your baby in his bed to sleep — for naps, at night, or any time — lay him down on his back.

Since the beginning of time- babies have slept in any which way. In fact, most babies are more comfortable sleeping on their stomachs. In a study done by Washington State University they state that”The first few times babies who usually sleep on their backs or sides shift to the prone (lying face down) position, they have a 19-fold increased risk of sudden death,” says senior author Bradley T. Thach, M.D., a Washington University pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “We wondered if these babies, finding themselves face down, fail to turn their heads to breathe easier. If so, is that because their reflexes haven’t developed far enough or because they just don’t wake up? After four to five minutes of sleeping face down on this surface all 38 babies awoke and attempted to get fresher air. The babies with experience sleeping prone generally lifted and turned their heads to either side when they sensed the air was stale, thereby increasing their supply of oxygen-rich air. In contrast, the inexperienced infants generally nuzzled the bedding or briefly lifted their heads and then resumed sleeping face down. Overall, babies inexperienced with sleeping prone spent more time fully face down than their more experienced counterparts.

SIDS most common in Winter months.

Perhaps the winter peak occurs because windows are shut, creating poor ventilation around the baby’s room and crib. Chemicals and gasses are less likely to dissipate. Babies are bundled in blankets during the winter, trapping gasses close to their bodies.
So what is the link with SIDS and baby mattresses?

Dr. Jim Sprott, OBE, a New Zealand scientist and chemist, says he is certain that crib death is caused by toxic gases, which can be generated from a baby’s mattress. He says 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).

What is in baby mattresses?

It was difficult to find specific information regarding baby mattresses, but I am assuming that the same chemicals are used as in adult mattresses. The fireproofing chemical: PentaBDE, a member of the polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) family of flame retardants, was used in some mattresses before 2004, when it was phased out. Recently the Consumer Product Safety Commission began to require that all mattresses sold in the United States be able to withstand 30 minutes of exposure to an open flame.

Mattress makers aren’t using Penta BDE anymore—but it’s not clear exactly what they are using to meet the new standard. Major manufacturers such as Simmons, Sealy, and Tempur-Pedic won’t divulge their flame-retardant formulas, which are considered trade secrets. Tempur-Pedic vaguely states that its products “consistently meet all safety standards.” A best guess at what’s in today’s mattresses comes from Ryan Trainer, executive vice president of the International Sleep Products Association, an industry group. He says most companies use “various types of barrier fabrics” such as cotton treated with boric acid or rayon treated with silica—both relatively benign chemicals—as well as fire-resistant materials such as modacrylic fiber (which contains antimony oxide, a carcinogen) and melamine resin (which contains formaldehyde).

“Some organic mattresses pass fire standards by using wool since wool is a fiber with natural fire retardant properties. There are companies that use only pure wool for this purpose. But be aware that some companies use wool with chemical treatments added to boost the wool’s fire resistance”

A firm mattress is the first thing to look for. A baby needs a solid surface since they cannot move their face out of the mattress if they get into one position.

All mattresses are required by law to have flame retardant chemicals unless you have a perscriptoin from a doctor.

Sheep are however dipped in chemicals to control fleas, ticks, and other diseases. A mattress can be called organic if it contains any organic component such as an organic cotton filling or an organic cotton surface fabric. Some organic mattresses have organic cotton filling with a vinyl covering. These may be called organic mattresses, but because of the vinyl covering (and most likely chemical fire retardants), these mattresses so not pass the non toxic test.

Buying a specially made polyethylene baby mattress cover might be the most affordable option if you are not looking to purchase a new mattress.

Polyethylene is considered the safest, most non-toxic plastic available. It has a simple molecular structure that does not require toxic chemical additives like phthalates.

Do not buy these at a home improvement store because you have to have a precise thickness. Best leave that to the professionals.

Naturepedic makes organic baby mattresses made with wool.

Factors contributing to SIDS

It isn’t called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for no reason. They have yet to determine (or disclose) the true reason for SIDS. There has been a few links to the vaccine schedule in correlation to the deaths. I have another post on vaccines and babies here. I’m sure there are many, complicated factors for SIDS, but without researching them for one’s self there can’t be informed decisions made about vaccines, formula, or mattresses. Either way it is a terrifying thing that happens, and there needs to be more research done and more conclusions made available to us.

Disclaimer: The findings I have found are from many sources, and my findings are not meant to prevent SIDS, I am only stating information. My research does not prevent or treat any illness and it has not been medically or scientifically proven, it is simply my own research and writing. Please formulate your own conclusions.

3 thoughts on “SIDS and mattresses

  1. You should also look into the research work done by Dr. Hannah Kinney. She has made major breakthroughs and has found that there seems to be a brain stem abnormality in many cases of SIDS babies. It is one of the better breakthroughs that they have made in recent years.
    I know everyone tried to make the vaccine/SIDS correlation but I know a large number of moms in my support groups who’s babies were not vaccinated as many were still too young. My own Xavier was not vaccinated and he was nursed and it wasn’t in the winter (windows were open) he was on his back and not on a baby mattress. But I still have SIDS/SUID as a cause of death. They found no reason for him to pass away.

    Also, I will find the link but the 1996 quote that it would not show on autopsy is not 100% correct. They require toxicology on infants who suddenly pass away and certain things will show on autopsy – something won’t but most will now.I only mention this because someone told us this about the mattress thing and we shared our fear with the medical examiner and coroner who said that those things would show on autopsy in toxicology even in trace amounts.

    There are just so many unknowns but you are correct as there needs to be more research.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your son. My post is only meant to shed some different aspects and most of the research I’ve found is inconclusive.I will look into Dr. Kinney, thank you for sending through this information about brain stem abnormality.

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