How Does A Soft Mattress Cause Sids

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Babies Sleep With Soft Bedding Despite SIDS Risk

Over half have items in crib that may up odds of sudden infant death syndrome

MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Although soft bedding has been linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), more than half of American parents continue to use such bedding for their sleeping babies, according to a new study.

Use of soft bedding among parents declined sharply from 1993 through 2000, but has mostly leveled off since the early 2000s, the study found. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended since 1996 that infants be placed in sleeping environments without any soft surfaces or objects that might trap air, the study noted.

"Soft bedding has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS. Soft objects and loose bedding — such as thick blankets, quilts and pillows — can obstruct an infant’s airway and impose suffocation risk," said lead author Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza, a senior scientist in the Maternal and Infant Health Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 16 babies per 100,000 died from accidental suffocation during sleep and 53 per 100,000 died from SIDS in 2010, according to background information in the study.

The researchers analyzed the results of the National Infant Sleep Position survey. This poll was conducted by phone annually between 1993 and 2010. Over that time, nearly 19,000 parents of children younger than 8 months answered questions about their baby’s sleep environment. Most respondents were white mothers, nearly half had a college education, and about half had a previous child, according to the study.

The researchers found that the use of bedding for infants declined from an average of 86 percent between 1993 and 1995 to an average of 55 percent between 2008 and 2010. Most of that decline, however, occurred before 2000.

The findings were reported online Dec. 1 inPediatrics.

The most common use of bedding occurred among teen mothers, more than 80 percent of whom used bedding. Not having a college education and younger mothers in general were also linked to more frequent use of bedding. Minority mothers were more likely than white mothers to use soft bedding, the study reported.

Continued

About 70 percent of the infants sleeping with soft bedding were on adult beds and/or sharing a sleeping surface with someone else, the researchers found.

The most common type of bedding covers used were thick blankets, used by just over a third of parents, and quilts or comforters, which about one in five parents used. But the use of thick blankets and quilts or comforters dropped significantly between 1993-1995 and 2008-2010, according to the study.

Research shows that infants who die from SIDS are found more often with bedding over their heads than similarly aged infants who don’t die from SIDS, said Peter Blair, a medical statistics researcher in infant and child health at the University of Bristol in England. "Some infant deaths, especially in the prone position, occur when the infant is face down on a pillow or soft toy," he said.

Yet the survey showed that many still use bedding under sleeping infants as well. Use of blankets under sleeping babies increased from 26 percent to 32 percent and pillow/cushion use under infants slightly increased as well, from 3 percent to 5 percent.

"Babies should sleep on a firm, safety-approved mattress with a fitted sheet, without any other bedding," Shapiro-Mendoza said. "Also important when placing the infant to sleep in a crib or bassinet is placing the infant on his or her back and not sharing a sleep surface with the infant."

This study did not assess the use of crib bumpers or infant sleep positioners, but these items — even those marketed as supposedly reducing the risk of SIDS — are also potentially hazardous in the sleep environment, according to both experts.

"Perhaps one of the reasons this problem still persists is that the SIDS risk reduction campaign has less money to spend advising against these items than advertising industries have promoting them," Blair said.

Parents may also believe soft bedding has benefits for their babies, and images in popular magazines often show babies sleeping with blankets and pillows, Shapiro-Mendoza said.

"Seeing these images may reinforce beliefs and perceptions that having these items in the infant sleep area is favorable and the norm," Shapiro-Mendoza said. "Studies suggest that parents use soft bedding to provide warmth, comfort and perceived safety."

Continued

For example, she said, parents might use pillows as a barricade to prevent falls from a sofa, but sofas are not safe sleeping surfaces for babies.

"The safest place for a baby to sleep is on his back, in a crib or bassinet in the parent’s or caregiver’s room," Shapiro-Mendoza said.

Firm Mattresses May Reduce SIDS

Sleeping With Siblings May Also Put Many Infants at Risk

May 12, 2003 — It’s a sad tale: families who can’t afford cribs with firm mattresses may be putting their newborns at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

A new report looks deeply at the potential causes of SIDS. The findings are dramatic: Soft bedding and stomach sleeping are a lethal combination for infants — increasing the risk of SIDSmore than 20-fold. Placing infants to sleep on a couch or in a bed with other children can also be potentially deadly, according to findings in the study.

In fact, such practices may reflect economic hardships among families who can’t afford firm mattresses and separate cribs for infants, say the authors of the study, which appears in the May issue ofPediatrics.

SIDS is defined as "the sudden death of an infant under one year of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history."

"This study provides important new information regarding SIDS risk factors," says Duane Alexander, MD, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in a news release.

The study focused on all deaths — 260 total — of infants between birth to age one during a three-year period in Chicago. It included information provided by death scene investigators who conducted interviews about circumstances surrounding the deaths. It also included autopsy information.

"Our study found a dramatic increase in SIDS risk for prone sleeping on soft surfaces, highlighting the need to eliminate these unsafe sleep practices," says researcher Fern R. Hauck, MD.

Infants who died of SIDS wereover five timesmore likely to have shared a bed with other children. Sleeping with the mother alone or the mother and father carried an increased risk of SIDS, but not greatly, researchers state. Also, sleeping with the mother alone did not prevent SIDS death, they say.

Bedding and sleep position were the biggest factors in infant deaths. Soft bedding posed five times the risk of SIDS as firm bedding. Sleeping on the stomach more than doubled the risk. Those factors togetherincreased risk 21-foldover infants who slept on their backs on firm bedding.

Prone sleeping on soft bedding may cause the infant to be smothered or overheated, researchers say.

Sofa sleeping with an infant also led to many deaths, possibly because infants became smothered, they say.

For families hard-pressed financially, the expense of firmer mattresses and separate cribs may be partly to blame for SIDS deaths, they speculate.

SIDS and baby sleep safety

What is SIDS?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the diagnosis given when a child under 1 year old dies suddenly and an exact cause can’t be found after a death scene investigation, an autopsy, and a review of the child’s medical history. SIDS falls under the diagnostic category of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs), which typically occur during sleep or in a baby’s sleep area. SUIDs also include deaths from accidental suffocation or strangulation, and from unknown causes.

SIDS is the leading cause of death in the United States for babies between 1 month and 1 year old, and 90 percent of SIDS cases involve infants younger than 6 months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 3,600 SUIDs that occur in the United States each year:

  • 1,400 babies die from SIDS
  • 900 babies die from accidental suffocation or strangulation while sleeping
  • 1,300 babies die during sleep for unknown reasons

Note: There is some overlap among these three subsets while experts work on stricter definitions. More deaths that would have been attributed to SIDS in the past are now being classified as accidental suffocation or strangulation.

While SIDS can occur outside of cribs, it’s also known as "crib death" because it happens most often during the night, usually between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Nighttime isn’t the only time that SIDS strikes, however.

About 15 to 20 percent of SIDS deaths happen in childcare settings. This is a surprisingly high number considering that babies spend much less time sleeping at daycare than they do at home. This statistic points out how crucial it is to make sure that everyone who cares for your baby follows safe sleeping guidelines, including not using a sitting device, such as a car seat or stroller, as an alternative to a crib (see "How can I reduce my baby’s risk of SIDS and other sleep-related dangers?" below).

What causes SIDS?

Researchers have learned a great deal about SIDS, but they still have no definitive answer to what causes it.

Most experts believe that SIDS occurs when a baby has an underlying physical vulnerability (such as immature or abnormal functioning of the heart, breathing, or arousal) and is exposed to certain stressful factors (such as sleeping tummy-down or being dressed too warmly) during a critical period of development.

Recent research suggests that inadequate levels of the brain chemical serotonin can make an infant more vulnerable to SIDS. Experts found that up to 70 percent of babies who died from SIDS had lower than normal levels of serotonin in the brain stem. Serotonin helps regulate breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure during sleep.

Experts are continuing to study the brain, the autonomic nervous system, infant care and sleep environments, infection and immunity, and genetics in search of answers.

Are certain babies at a higher risk for SIDS?

Yes. Risk factors include:

  • Preterm birth.The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of SIDS.
  • Low birth weight.The lower a baby’s birth weight is, the higher the risk of SIDS.
  • Younger than 4 months.
  • Being a boy.About 60 percent of SIDS victims are boys.
  • Being atwin.Twins have double the risk of SIDS, which is largely due to the overall lower birth weight of twins.
  • Mother under the age of 20.
  • Mother who smoked during pregnancy.
  • Short span between mother’s pregnancies.
  • Sibling who died of SIDS.
  • Certain ethnic backgrounds.SUIDS rates were highest for Native American/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic black infants (more than twice those of non-Hispanic white infants) between 2013 and 2016, according to the CDC. Research indicates that these higher rates are related primarily to infant care practices such as a preference for bed sharing or placing infants on their stomach to sleep.

Why does sharing a bed with my baby raise the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related dangers?

For one thing, your bed has pillows and soft bedding, which are risk factors for SIDS. It’s also easier for your baby to become overheated while sharing your bed.

If you’re feeding your baby in your bed and concerned that you might fall asleep, strip the bed clear of pillows and bedding (a tightly fitted sheet is okay). If you fall asleep, put your baby in her crib when you wake up.

In addition to the risk factors above, studies have shown that these bed-sharing situations are especially dangerous for a baby who is:

  • Placed on soft bedding such as pillows or blankets
  • Placed on a soft surface such as a couch, armchair, or waterbed
  • Sharing with someone who is very tired or using medication that makes it hard to wake up
  • Sharing with a smoker, even if that person isn’t smoking in bed
  • Sharing with someone who drank alcohol
  • Sharing with someone who took illicit drugs
  • Sharing with anyone who is not a parent, including other children
  • Sharing with more than two people

How can I reduce my baby’s risk of SIDS and other sleep-related dangers?

There’s no guaranteed way to prevent SIDS, but you can greatly reduce the risk by following these safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Following these recommendations will also reduce your baby’s risk of other types of sleep-related death, including suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment.

The AAP began recommending that infants be placed on their backs for sleep in 1992, and the Back to Sleep (now known as Safe to Sleep) campaign began in 1994. In response, the rate of deaths from SIDS dropped from 130 per 100,000 births in 1990 to about 35 per 100,000 births in 2017.

A baby’s risk of SIDS has been found to be two to 13 times higher (depending on the study) if she sleeps on her tummy instead of her back. When a baby sleeps tummy-down, she’s more likely to overheat, have pauses in breathing and fewer arousals, and rebreathe the air she has just exhaled, which contains less oxygen.

  • In addition to putting your baby to sleep on her back during the first year of her life, make sure that every caregiver, including relatives, babysitters, and childcare providers, knows to do this.
  • Don’t put your baby to sleep on her side. Babies placed on their side can easily end up on their tummy.
  • Don’t use towels or a sleep positioner to try to keep your baby on her back. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning to parents to stop using sleep positioners after 12 infants suffocated while using these devices.
  • Once your baby is strong enough to roll over by herself, you don’t have to worry about her staying on her back all night. But continue to place her on her back when you lay her down for sleep until she’s 1 year old.

One problem with putting your baby on her back so much is that she may develop a flat spot on the back or side of her head. This is called positional plagiocephaly, or "flat head syndrome." (See tips on ways to prevent plagiocephaly, such as supervised tummy time.)

The AAP recommends that your baby sleep in your room, but not in your bed, at night for at least the first six months and ideally for the first year.

Positioning a crib, bassinet, or play yard close to your bed allows you to easily reach your baby for nighttime feedings and comforting. This arrangement cuts the risk of SIDS by as much as half, according to the AAP.

Do not put any blankets or toys – especially soft ones like stuffed animals – in the crib. Keep any other item that could cover your baby’s face, neck, or head out of the crib.

Millions of cribs by major brands have been recalled in recent years.

See our article on how to buy a crib for guidelines on choosing a safe crib. Also read our tips for childproofing your nursery to keep your baby’s sleeping environment free of hazards.

If you’ll be traveling, make sure the place you’re staying has a safe crib, or bring a portable crib or play yard with you.

  • Don’t use a soft mattress, such as one with memory foam, or any kind of mattress topper. Soft surfaces increase the risk of suffocation if your baby ends up in the tummy-down position. If your baby sleeps in a play yard or bassinet, use only the pad that comes with it and don’t cover it with any cushions or extra padding.
  • Don’t use crib bumpers, which the AAP and SIDS-prevention groups caution against. There’s no evidence that bumpers prevent injuries, and they may lead to suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment. Also, without bumpers, air circulates more freely around your baby and you can see him better.
  • Don’t cover your baby with a blanket or bedding of any sort because it can end up over his face and can obstruct his breathing. You can swaddle your baby, (see “Is it okay to swaddle my baby below?”), but if you think your baby is chilly, dress him in warmer clothing such as footed pajamas. Or put him in a cotton one-piece and zip him into a wearable blanket or sleep sack – a sleeveless garment that’s closed along the bottom like a bag. (Get more ideas for keeping your baby warm at night without blankets.)
  • The safest sleep position for your baby is flat on his back – this keeps his airway open. (And don’t worry, he won’t choke or gag while on his back, even if he has gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.)
  • Don’t let your baby sleep for extended periods in a sitting device – including a car seat, stroller, swing, or bouncer – and never in an inclined sleeper. This is particularly important for babies under 4 months because they can suffocate if they sleep in an inclined position and their head rolls forward too much. If your baby falls asleep in a sitting device, transfer him to a crib, bassinet, or play yard as soon as is practical.
  • When your baby is in an infant carrier or sling, make sure his head is up above the fabric with his face visible, and his nose and mouth are clear and not pressed against your body or the fabric.
  • Don’t prop up your baby’s mattress with a towel or a crib wedge in an attempt to relieve congestion or reflux. He could slide or roll down into a position that could make it difficult for him to breathe.
  • Dress your baby for sleep in no more than one layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment.
  • Watch for signs of overheating such as sweating, damp hair, or a chest that feels hot to the touch.
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head with a hat or hood when he’s sleeping. (Unless your baby is premature, he won’t need a cap after the first few days.)

Studies show that a baby’s risk of SIDS rises with each additional smoker in the household, with the number of cigarettes smoked around her each day, and with the length of her exposure to cigarette smoke.

A meta-analysis concluded that babies who were breastfed for at least two months cut their risk of SIDS in half, even if the babies were not exclusively breastfed. Breastfeeding for longer than two months provided increased protection.

The AAP cautions that, if you’re nursing, it’s best to wait to offer a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established – usually around three or four weeks after birth.

You don’t have to reinsert the pacifier if your baby drops it once he falls asleep. And there’s no need to force your baby to use one if he doesn’t take to it.

Note: To avoid strangulation, don’t hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach it to his clothing while he’s asleep.

Does my baby have to sleep in a crib?

The AAP recommends that your baby sleep in a crib, bassinet, or play yard that meets current safety standards and that is placed in your room close to your bed.

  • Do not use any sitting device as an alternative to a crib, and make sure that childcare providers and babysitters do the same. If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, bouncer, or swing, move her to a crib, bassinet, or play yard as soon as practical. (Consider bringing a portable crib or play yard with you if you’re going somewhere without a crib.)
  • Do not use an inclined sleeper. The CPSC has announced recalls for more than 5 million inclined sleepers, including the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play and Kids II Rocking Sleepers.
  • The AAP says it cannot make a recommendation for or against a bedside sleeper – a criblike bed that fits snugly against your bed – because of the lack of safety studies. However, the CPSC has developed safety standards for bedside sleepers, so before you purchase one, be sure to check that it meets these standards.
  • The CPSC hasnotdeveloped safety standards for in-bed sleepers, products designed to give an infant a separate space in an adult bed, for example, by using padding or a mesh structure as a barrier. "There is no evidence that these devices reduce the risk of SIDS or suffocation, or are safe," according to the AAP Taskforce on SIDS.

Is it okay for my twins to sleep together?

The AAP recommends that twins or other multiples not sleep together. There isn’t data specifically addressing bed-sharing multiples, but other studies have shown that bed sharing with other children places an infant at a higher risk of SIDS. And multiples are likely to have other risk factors for SIDS, such as premature birth and low birth weight.

Is it okay for me to swaddle my baby?

Yes, as long as you stop as soon as your baby starts trying to roll over or is able to get out of the swaddle. These scenarios can cause him to get unsafely bound up in the swaddle, have his face covered, or suffocate in the face-down position.

Some SIDS experts caution that swaddling could contribute to overheating. So if you do swaddle your baby, use a thin blanket and make sure the room isn’t too warm.

Should I use a heart rate monitor to prevent SIDS?

According to the AAP, there’s no evidence that cardiorespiratory or home sleep monitors (which detect a baby’s movement and alert you if it stops for a certain amount of time) reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS, and the organization doesn’t recommend their use for this purpose. They could also provide a false sense of security.

An exception is if your baby’s doctor has prescribed a cardiorespiratory monitor, which may happen if your baby has a condition like sleep apnea or a slow heart rate. If such a monitor was prescribed for your baby, use it diligently.

How does a soft mattress cause sids


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SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and Baby Mattresses

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or crib death, is the unexpected death of an infant which is not explained by any known cause in the baby s health or in its environment. It is the leading cause of death in infants from one to six months of age. SIDS risk begins at about two weeks after birth, then declines after a peak in the third month when the baby s immunity acquired from the mother tapers off, and is rare after one year. Since WW II about 1 million infant deaths have been attributed to SIDS. SIDS deaths were quite rare before that time. It occurs almost exclusively in Europe, Australia/New Zealand and the United States. The United States alone continues to have over 3,000 SIDS deaths each year.

The Mattress Connection

Many ideas have been proposed to explain SIDS, but none has been comprehensive or convincing until the theory presented by Barry Richardson, a British expert in materials degradation. His theory was validated by the research of Dr. T. James Sprott, a New Zealand chemist and forensic scientist.

Their research demonstrates that SIDS is the result of accidental poisoning due to toxic gases released from baby mattresses. These gases are produced by the interaction of common household fungi with phosphorus, arsenic and antimony, chemicals which are either present naturally in the mattresses or which have been added as flame retardant chemicals.

The fungi are harmless by themselves but feed on these chemicals. The byproducts are the gases phosphine (PH3), arsine (AsH3) and stibine (SbH3). These nearly odorless gases breathed even in small quantities for an extended time can interrupt the choline/acetylcholine transfer of nervous impulses from the brain to the heart and lungs. This shuts down the central nervous system; heart function and breathing stop. The gases are heavier than air, and about 1,000 times more poisonous than carbon monoxide. A baby sleeping on its stomach is in the zone above the mattress where the gases are most dense. Repeated exposure to these gases, especially in combination with other insults to a baby s immune systems, can result in toxic overload and death.

There has been no research to date which has disproved this theory or offered a better one. Research in 1994 by Richardson showed high levels of antimony in livers of SIDS babies. Antimony is not normally present in a healthy baby, and does not show up in autopsies of babies who slept on mattresses free of phosphorus, arsenic and antimony. This means that SIDS is an environmental problem, not a medical one. Areas of the world where mattresses containing these chemicals are used have a much higher incidence of SIDS. Areas in the world where fungus is ubiquitous, such as in Japan, Hong Kong and the Pacific Islands, but where mattresses do not contain these chemicals do not have a problem with SIDS.

The Fungus Connection

Fungal growth is sped up when moisture from the baby s body such as perspiration, urine, drool, etc. penetrates the bedding and provides a growth medium for the fungus. Growth is also sped up by increased body heat, especially if a baby has a temperature from tightly wrapped covers, higher room temperature, infection in a compromised immune system, and/or a reaction to vaccinations. Boy babies with their increased metabolism have a 30 percent higher incidence of SIDS than girl babies.

British researcher Peter Mitchell showed that babies later in the birth order have a higher incidence of SIDS deaths because over time, repeated use of the same mattress increases the amount of fungal spores present. The risk doubles with each child. Lower income families have more SIDS deaths because they are more likely to reuse bedding rather than buy new bedding for each child. Children of poor single mothers are at seven times the risk for SIDS.

The Richardson theory was first made public in Britain in 1989. Public relations campaigns in both Britain and New Zealand have significantly reduced SIDS deaths. Manufacturers in Britain withdrew the use of toxic chemicals in their products. This was coupled with a campaign to have all babies sleep on their backs. Unfortunately there is resistance from researchers and health authorities in these countries and the United States which prevents information campaigns from being as effective as they might be. Authorities seeking to avoid possible lawsuits may try to suppress this information.

How to Protect Infants

It is important to protect infants from exposure to these gases. The heavier-than-air gases drift towards the floor, so babies are somewhat protected by sleeping on their backs. Phosphine is only slightly heavier than air though, so it poses a hazard to babies in any position. After the age of five months a baby can turn itself over and once again receive higher exposure. It is ideal to protect babies from all contact with these gases. Covering a mattress with a barrier to exposure is the alternative if chemical-free bedding isn’t available. Dr. Sprott developed a mattress cover as well as protocols for using polyethylene (called polythene in other parts of the world) or rubber sheeting to safely wrap mattresses. The directions as given by Dr. Sprott are:

1. Mattresses (including sheepskins) should be wrapped with a thick, natural-color (not black) polyethylene sheeting or surgical rubber sheeting. Polyethylene suitable for this purpose is available through most garden centers. Don t use PVC (polyvinyl chloride) as it frequently contains phosphorus and antimony compounds.

2. Place the polyethylene or rubber over the top of the mattress and down the ends and sides, and then secure it firmly beneath the mattress with strong adhesive tape [that doesn t give off fumes itself].

3. The polyethylene or rubber on the underside of the mattress should not be made airtight. It must be airtight on the top and sides of the mattress.

4. The best under-blanket for use on a wrapped mattress is fleecy cotton.

5. The advice to wrap mattresses applies to every mattress on which a baby is put down to sleep, including adults mattresses, mattresses of other children and all mattresses made of or covered with natural products such as sheep fleeces, goat skins, kapok, tree bark, coconut fiber, etc.

6. Proprietary mattress covers should not be used unless they have been shown by chemical analysis to be free from the elements in question.

7. Babies should never by put down to sleep on the mattress of another baby or older child unless the mattress is wrapped.

A baby is at risk in any place where these toxic gases exist. Examine the materials in strollers as well, as quilts can contain antimony and phosphorus and are seldom washed. It is also recommended to have ample ventilation wherever a baby is sleeping. Bumper guards in cribs can be placed around the upper part and partway down the sides of the crib, but not all the way around, so that gases can sink down to the floor.

Reduced Death is Good Evidence

Since the late 1950s New Zealand had possibly the highest incidence of SIDS in the world. The mattress-wrapping campaign promoted in New Zealand since 1994 by Dr. Sprott, midwives and other health care professionals for SIDS prevention has had a success rate of 100 percent among the over 100,000 of those who have used it. There have been no SIDS deaths reported in families using the wrapped mattresses. From 1994 to 1997 the nationwide rate fell from 2.1/1000 live births to 1.4/1000, a reduction of 33 percent. The Caucasian community within New Zealand, having more widely adopted this practice, had a SIDS rate reduction of over 60 percent. All SIDS deaths within this period were on non-wrapped beds. There were no other changes in public approach to the SIDS problem.

Do Vaccinations Play a Role?

There is research by other physicians which links SIDS fatalities to vaccinations. Dr. Sprott makes the case that vaccinations are a contributing factor only and not the major culprit. Reaction to vaccinations can cause a spike in the baby s temperature, which is the problem. Higher body heat activates the growth of fungus in the mattress, which feeds more on the phosphorus, arsenic and antimony and produces more toxic gases. Vaccinations become a greatly reduced threat if a baby who has just been vaccinated sleeps on a wrapped bed.

SIDS has also been attributed to other factors. Dr.Sprott makes it clear that while these have other effects on infant health, they do not either prevent or cause SIDS. Breast feeding, important to health in other ways, will not override toxic effects of harmful gases. Sleeping with your baby is helpful for emotional bonding, but can be hazardous if the parents bed is outgassing toxic chemicals. Smoking during or after pregnancy is an additional insult which can weaken a baby, but the mattress chemicals are the ultimate cause of death. Poor nutrition alone won t cause SIDS.

Dr. Sprott stresses that if the mattress on which a baby sleeps is correctly wrapped, any sleeping position is safe, any mattress can be used, bed sharing is safe, bumper pads can be used to prevent injury, and there is no risk of SIDS.

Holland Franklin is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, CA.

(Fits standard 27-1/4" by 52" crib mattresses)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is the leading cause of death in infants from one to six months of age, may be caused by gases coming from dirty crib mattresses. We feel that there is enough compelling evidence supporting this theory to share the information with you.

More than a decade ago, Dr. T. James Sprott proposed the theory that the elements phosphorus, arsenic and antimony — which are present in most crib and bassinet mattresses and covers, as well as in natural products such as sheepskin — may interact with common mildew to produce dangerous gas that may poison susceptible babies.

The solution for blocking exposure to these gases, and thus preventing SIDS, is to cover the mattress with natural-color polyethylene sheeting found at hardware stores. However, we had quite a bit of mail from our readers looking for an actual mattress cover rather than just a flat sheet of plastic.

We have tracked down a crib mattress cover that meets Dr. Sprott’s specifications. When you purchase this cover from us, the manufacturer will donate a cover to the No More SIDS Foundation for distribution to a low income family or day care center, so your purchase will help more than one baby!

Again, I want to emphasize that this is still a theory and we’re not making any guarantees about this mattress cover, but as you’ll read in the article (reprinted from the John R. Lee, M.D. Medical Letter — see the More Info button), the evidence for its use is very convincing.

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Babies Still Sleeping With Soft Bedding Despite SIDS Risk: CDC

Over half have items in crib that may up odds of sudden infant death syndrome

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Although soft bedding has been linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), more than half of American parents continue to use such bedding for their sleeping babies, according to a new study.

Use of soft bedding among parents declined sharply from 1993 through 2000, but has mostly leveled off since the early 2000s, the study found. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended since 1996 that infants be placed in sleeping environments without any soft surfaces or objects that might trap air, the study noted.

"Soft bedding has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS. Soft objects and loose bedding — such as thick blankets, quilts and pillows — can obstruct an infant’s airway and impose suffocation risk," said lead author Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza, a senior scientist in the Maternal and Infant Health Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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About 16 babies per 100,000 died from accidental suffocation during sleep and 53 per 100,000 died from SIDS in 2010, according to background information in the study.

The researchers analyzed the results of the National Infant Sleep Position survey. This poll was conducted by phone annually between 1993 and 2010. Over that time, nearly 19,000 parents of children younger than 8 months answered questions about their baby’s sleep environment. Most respondents were white mothers, nearly half had a college education, and about half had a previous child, according to the study.

The researchers found that the use of bedding for infants declined from an average of 86 percent between 1993 and 1995 to an average of 55 percent between 2008 and 2010. Most of that decline, however, occurred before 2000.

The findings were reported online Dec. 1 inPediatrics.

The most common use of bedding occurred among teen mothers, more than 80 percent of whom used bedding. Not having a college education and younger mothers in general were also linked to more frequent use of bedding. Minority mothers were more likely than white mothers to use soft bedding, the study reported.

About 70 percent of the infants sleeping with soft bedding were on adult beds and/or sharing a sleeping surface with someone else, the researchers found.

The most common type of bedding covers used were thick blankets, used by just over a third of parents, and quilts or comforters, which about one in five parents used. But the use of thick blankets and quilts or comforters dropped significantly between 1993-1995 and 2008-2010, according to the study.

Research shows that infants who die from SIDS are found more often with bedding over their heads than similarly aged infants who don’t die from SIDS, said Peter Blair, a medical statistics researcher in infant and child health at the University of Bristol in England. "Some infant deaths, especially in the prone position, occur when the infant is face down on a pillow or soft toy," he said.

Yet the survey showed that many still use bedding under sleeping infants as well. Use of blankets under sleeping babies increased from 26 percent to 32 percent and pillow/cushion use under infants slightly increased as well, from 3 percent to 5 percent.

"Babies should sleep on a firm, safety-approved mattress with a fitted sheet, without any other bedding," Shapiro-Mendoza said. "Also important when placing the infant to sleep in a crib or bassinet is placing the infant on his or her back and not sharing a sleep surface with the infant."

This study did not assess the use of crib bumpers or infant sleep positioners, but these items — even those marketed as supposedly reducing the risk of SIDS — are also potentially hazardous in the sleep environment, according to both experts.

"Perhaps one of the reasons this problem still persists is that the SIDS risk reduction campaign has less money to spend advising against these items than advertising industries have promoting them," Blair said.

Parents may also believe soft bedding has benefits for their babies, and images in popular magazines often show babies sleeping with blankets and pillows, Shapiro-Mendoza said.

"Seeing these images may reinforce beliefs and perceptions that having these items in the infant sleep area is favorable and the norm," Shapiro-Mendoza said. "Studies suggest that parents use soft bedding to provide warmth, comfort and perceived safety."

For example, she said, parents might use pillows as a barricade to prevent falls from a sofa, but sofas are not safe sleeping surfaces for babies.

"The safest place for a baby to sleep is on his back, in a crib or bassinet in the parent’s or caregiver’s room," Shapiro-Mendoza said.

Learn more about sudden infant death syndrome from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior scientist, Maternal and Infant Health Branch, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Peter Blair, Ph.D., reader in medical statistics, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, United Kingdom; January 2015,Pediatrics

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2014

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