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SIDS and Mattress-wrapping...

There have been post after post on Mothering and other mama message boards about the dangers of placing baby on an unwrapped mattress. This issue has been confusing the heck out of me, soooo...

Ok, so I bit my fear bullet and went on a search to find out what the deal was with the New Zealand studies about SIDS. Turns out that NZ previously had pretty high rates of SIDS and thus they initiated a big campaign to go after it.

Unfortunately the only sources I can find which cite mattress wrapping as a factor in reducing SIDS deaths are secondhand. The site usually referred to in disucssions about mattress-wrapping is cotdeath2000.co.nz. (Sorry, I'm deliberately not linking to it directly.) Cotdeath2000 is not affiliated with a medical organization. It's "someones" website. I tried to track it down, but the New Zealand domain registry service doesn't provide much in the way of information. I'd be interested to know what other domains these people own, but I do know they own both cotlife2000.co.nz and cotlife2000.com.

First thing I found, dated 2006, is an article about a scientist castigating Auckland University for releasing this study about cot death for publication; claims are made that the study is both biased and invalid.

The end of the article states:

The nationwide cot death rate has fallen by 70% since mattress-wrapping began and the Pakeha rate has fallen by around 85%. These reductions in cot death rates cannot be attributed to orthodox cot death prevention advice (e.g. face-up sleeping). There has been no material change to that advice in New Zealand since 1992.

But I went to the New Zealand Ministry of Health website (http://www.moh.govt.nz) and looked up SIDS and cot death, and was unable to find even a single mention there of mattress-wrapping. You'd think if it really made such a significant change, the MOH would discuss it on their site! So basically they make this claim about a reduction in the rate of SIDS with nothing to back it up, which seems very odd to me.

Here's some info from New Zealand's Ministry of Health for 2002 (the most recent year I could find).

If you go to New Zealand's "HealthEd" database and search for SIDS, there are a series of articles discussing smoking, "back to sleep," safe bedsharing, and more on smoking. Nothing on mattress-wrapping. (Unfortunately these are not linkable).

Here's an article from NZ about (sad, sad) a SIDS case where the factor of smoking and bed sharing comes into play.
(FWIW, NZ is not against bed sharing. But apparently smoking AND sharing a bed dramatically increases risks. Makes sense to me!)

Here's an article from Mothering magazine from 2002 in which no mention is made of mattress-wrapping...

Canada is not recommending mattress-wrapping...

Nothing on the CDC website about it...

Basically the only thing I have been able to find citing mattress wrapping are articles which refer back to the study listed at cotlife2000.co.nz. This link, which another poster posted (http://www.healthychild.com/cribdeathcause.htm) cites the man from the cotlife website (Sprott) as its source. So there are tons of websites talking about what they say on the cotlife website, but nothing else I can find. Not a single other source that I can find with any research or statistics to back it up. Plenty of sites selling mattress wrapping materials cite these statistics, though!

This article also says:

In spite of denial and opposition from orthodox SIDS organizations, no research has disproved this gaseous poisoning explanation for crib death.

Ok, someone please tell me why a SIDS organization would pooh pooh a possible cause for SIDS??? What would the motivation be? I don't understand that. Secondly, this is flawed logic. Disproved??? How would you "disprove" this??? So they say 800 people used mattress wrapping and not one had a case of SIDS. Who says there would've been a case of SIDS there ANYways????

This article goes on to say...

This logical finding explains every factor already known about crib death, and is backed by scientific research (Sprott 1996, 2000) and eight years of practical proof consisting of a crib death prevention campaign that continues in New Zealand.

Again their source is the same person, same thing, over and over again. Honestly, this seems like a pretty easy thing to track if ANY SIDS organization wanted to. I can't imagine that if the evidence were really so compelling, that Canada and the US government wouldn't have gotten on the bandwagon to see what effect it has.


A 100% successful crib death prevention campaign has been going on in New Zealand for the past eight 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 550. The number of crib deaths that have occurred in New Zealand on a properly wrapped mattress is zero.

Gosh that sounds wonderful doesn't it? Except NOWHERE do they back it up. If this is true, why is it not on the New Zealand Ministry of Health website? Why is it not on ANY single solitary SIDS organization website? It just doesn't make any sense. Sure they have a list of references here; but most of those they are using to discuss general issues regarding SIDS. Not once do they actually attach a statistic to a valid source aside from this Sprott guy.

I would be grateful if anyone finds anything more than I have, if they'd post it... I've looked and looked! I just would like to be able to only be scared about things that really are a threat to my baby. It doesn't seem to me that mattresses are one of those things I should be too concerned about.

SIDS is a boogeyman to parents, IMO, and scares us to death. Scares me to death! I hate to think someone is preying on our desire to protect our children at any costs. So if there IS independant research about this and I'm not finding it, that is NOT sponsored by this Sprott guy or Baby Safe products, I'd be glad to hear it. I hate thinking people have unethical motivations for things like this.

Of course, everyone needs to make their own decisions for their family and their baby. Hopefully though, we can make decisions about things that are rooted in reality and not superstition or someone's desire to sell mattress-wrapping materials and "safer" mattresses.


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