Monday, October 06, 2008

NEW RESEARCH CONFIRMS TOXIC GAS THEORY FOR COT DEATH (SIDS)

7 October 2008
MEDIA RELEASE FOR PUBLICATION
NEW RESEARCH CONFIRMS TOXIC GAS THEORY FOR COT DEATH (SIDS)

New US research confirms the toxic gas theory for the cause of cot death, stated New Zealand cot death prevention expert Dr Jim Sprott OBE today.

Research published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine (1) found that having a fan on during sleep was associated with a 72% decreased risk of cot death among babies, as compared with sleeping without a fan in operation. The reduction in risk was greatest for babies sleeping in warm rooms (temperature above 21 degrees Celsius); and fan use also decreased cot death risk among babies who slept on their stomachs or sides.

"These findings are very strong confirmation of the toxic gas theory for cot death", stated Dr Sprott. "An operating fan dissipates gases generated in the baby's sleeping environment. In particular, the highly toxic gas phosphine (generated from phosphorus, which is very common in bedding) is likely to remain around a baby in the cot owing to the density of this gas, so it is no surprise that research has found that fan use greatly reduces cot death risk.

"The finding that fan use reduces the risk even more in warmer rooms is also consistent with the toxic gas theory for cot death", stated Dr Sprott. "If a baby's bedding is capable of toxic gas generation, overheating in the cot greatly increases the likelihood of fungal generation of the gases in question."

"Crucially, the fact that fan use greatly reduces cot death risk among babies sleeping face-down or on their sides demonstrates that the partial protective effect of face-up sleeping against cot death is not related to any medical condition or physical defect in the baby. So once again we have further demonstration that cot death does not have a medical or physiological cause.

"Face-up sleeping reduces cot death risk because the toxic gases which cause cot death are all more dense than air. They diffuse away from a baby's face, and therefore a baby sleeping face-up is less likely to ingest them."

The researchers' suggestion that fan use may reduce cot death risk by preventing a baby from re-breathing exhaled carbon dioxide is already disproved, stated Dr Sprott. "Longstanding epidemiology demonstrates that cot death is not caused by babies re-breathing exhaled air in the cot."

Dr Sprott called on the New Zealand Ministry of Health to immediately endorse mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention.

Since 1995 a mattress-wrapping protocol for cot death prevention has been publicised nationwide in New Zealand. On the basis of three studies into the incidence of mattress-wrapping (2), it is calculated that at least 170,000 New Zealand babies have slept on "wrapped mattresses". There has been no reported cot death among those babies.

Since the commencement of mattress-wrapping the New Zealand cot death rate has fallen by 68%; and the cot death rate of the population group most likely to wrap babies' mattresses (European/Paheka) has fallen by around 85%. (3)

Notes:
1. Coleman-Phox, K, et al, "Use of a fan during sleep and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome", Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2008; 162: 963-968.
2. NZ Med J 2000; 113: 8-10; NZ Med J 2000; 113: 326-327; Eur J Pediatrics 2008; 167(2): 251-252 (Short Report).
3. Source of statistics: New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Media release issued by:
T J Sprott OBE MSc PhD FNZIC
Consulting chemist & forensic scientist
10 Combes Road
Remuera
Auckland 1050
NEW ZEALAND
Phone/fax: +64-9-5231150

Monday, July 14, 2008

SIDS 2008 Conference: Wednesday, June 25

On Wednesday at the SIDS 2008 Conference (Portsmouth):

Professor Peter Fleming (University of Bristol) will address the conference. Dr Fleming and UK FSID promote the 1998 UK Limerick Report, which concluded that the toxic gas theory for cot death was unsubstantiated.

For an overview of errors and fallacies in the Limerick Report, click on www.cotlife2000.co.nz/limerick.htm
FSID says:
“In 1989 Mr Barry Richardson, a materials consultant, said that his research showed antimony added to mattress PVC released a toxic gas which, he said, caused cot death. In 1990 the Department of Health and FSID commissioned studies to investigate the claim but neither found any evidence to support it."

Wrong. The 1990 UK Department of Health investigation (Turner Report, May 1991) did find evidence to support the toxic gas theory: the Turner Committee achieved biogeneration of a form of stibine gas from cot mattress material. Furthermore, the Committee recommended that if antimony fire retardant was used in cot mattresses, the levels of arsenic in the antimony should be as low as possible - a tacit admission that mattresses could generate arsine gas.

FSID says:
“There is no difference in antimony concentrations in cot death babies and other babies."

Wrong. Research carried out in Britain in 1994 (by the Robens Institute Trace Element Laboratory, Surrey) showed that post mortem body tissue of cot death babies contained many times more antimony than tissue of babies who had died of other causes. (FSID’s incorrect claim resulted from their citing average figures, whereas for such purposes individual figures must be used.)

FSID says:
“Antimony is found in most babies and was reported in scientific literature before the chemicals were present in mattress PVC. Antimony is found in babies even before birth - i.e. before they could have had any exposure to mattresses. It could come from maternal diet, but antimony is everywhere in the environment, including common household dust.”

Wrong. Antimony is a very rare element. It comprises about one part per million (0.0001%) of the earth’s crust. In the household environment antimony is present in significant quantity only in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheeting and certain upholstery and bedding. Chemical analyses of a range of food and other materials were carried out in Britain in 1994, and antimony was found to be virtually absent.

FSID says:
"Antimony was not added to mattresses in the UK before 1988 and yet cot deaths were occurring at the rate of about 2,000 per year well before then. There are currently just under 350 cot deaths per year. The year after antimony was first added to mattresses, 1989, was the year that cot deaths began to decrease."

First sentence wrong; third sentence misleading. The facts are as follows: Antimony was first introduced into cot mattresses in Britain in the early 1950s, and the British cot death rate increased steadily from that time onwards. The highest cot death rate in Britain (2.3 deaths per 1000 live births in 1986-1988) occurred at the same time as the highest concentration of antimony in cot mattresses. The British Government had required fire retardant to be incorporated into cot mattresses by 1988. Manufacturers were given four years’ notice, and during this period moved towards compliance with the new standard.

Certainly the British cot death rate fell while the amount of antimony in mattresses was high; but that was because from mid-1989 onwards British parents took preventive measures against toxic gas generated in babies’ mattresses; and furthermore, British manufacturers began to remove antimony from cot mattresses.

In June 1989 the toxic gas theory for cot death was publicised nationwide in Britain, and parents were advised to use a new mattress for each baby, or alternatively to wrap their existing mattress in polythene sheeting. The cot death rate immediately began to fall; and it had fallen 38% by the time the British “Back to Sleep” (face-up sleeping) campaign was introduced in December 1991 (two-and-a-half years later).

FSID says:
"The claim that the decrease [in the cot death rate] was due to publicising the advice to wrap mattresses is unfounded. In the CESDI study (Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy), the UK's largest study into cot death, only 2% of mattresses in the UK were found to be wrapped, and the study found that babies had actually died on wrapped mattresses. The claim by Cot Life 2000 that this is because the mattresses were wrapped incorrectly is unsubstantiated. As CESDI is a confidential enquiry with the data being completely anonymous, it is not possible for anyone to know whether the wrapping was ‘incorrect’."

First part irrelevant; second part wrong. As stated above, the advice publicised in Britain in June 1989 was that parents should use a new mattress for each baby or alternatively wrap their existing mattress in polythene sheeting. It is quite clear that many parents took the first option: sales of new cot mattresses jumped by around 15%. Thus FSID’s statement that only 2% of mattresses were wrapped is irrelevant - many parents took the option of buying a new mattress instead.

FSID’s claim that babies in the CESDI Study had actually died on mattresses wrapped for cot death prevention is totally unsubstantiated. No chemical analysis of the plastic wraps in question was carried out. In February 2000 Professor Peter Fleming (an author of the CESDI Study) conceded on Radio New Zealand that he could not demonstrate that the mattresses in question had been wrapped in accordance with the specifications for cot death prevention.

FSID says:
"Cot death occurs in countries where no antimony has ever been added to mattresses.”

Of course it does. Antimony is naturally present in various materials used for infant bedding (e.g. sheepskins); furthermore, antimony is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of PVC and other materials used as mattress components. Therefore antimony can be present in infant bedding (and result in cot deaths) even though it has not been added during the bedding manufacturing process. FSID's statement is irrelevant.

FSID says:
"When comparing babies who die with those who live, proportionately more of the babies who lived slept on PVC mattresses. This may be because it is easier to keep such mattresses clean. A Scottish study found that previously used cloth or ‘ventilated’ mattresses (which are more difficult to keep clean) are associated with an increased risk of cot death. However, the same study found that used mattresses with a full integral PVC covering were not associated with an increased risk of cot death."

Misleading. Provided PVC does not contain any phosphorus, arsenic or antimony, it is an excellent mattress covering. Following the nationwide publicity about the toxic gas theory in Britain in June 1989, mattress manufacturers began removing those chemicals from PVC used to cover cot mattresses - so of course the cot death rate on PVC-covered mattresses in Britain went down.

FSID says:
"Several research groups have replicated Mr Richardson's original experiment but their findings do not substantiate his conclusions, even though Mr Richardson co-operated fully with one of the attempts and agreed that the same methodology had been followed. In other words, in normal cot-like conditions it is not possible to generate toxic gas from antimony encapsulated in mattress PVC."

Wrong. The UK Turner Committee (which investigated the toxic gas theory in the early 1990s) proved the gas generation concerned. In the case of the Limerick Committee’s investigation of the toxic gas theory, at the only meeting held between Barry Richardson and the Committee’s researchers, Richardson warned the researchers that their test methods were incorrect. A technical critique published by Richardson following the release of the Limerick Report (in 1998) demonstrates that the Limerick Committee did not replicate his test methods.

The former Chief Executive of the New Zealand Cot Death Assocation, Mr Lee Schoushkoff, conceded that the Limerick Committee did not replicate Richardson’s test methods.

And in any event, the Limerick Committee achieved the generation of the highly toxic gases stibine and arsine from cot mattress materials.

For information on how to prevent cot death (by preventing exposure of babies to the toxic gases which cause cot death), visit www.cotlife2000.co.nz
Issued by:
T J Sprott OBE MSc PhD FNZIC
Consulting chemist & forensic scientist
10 Combes Road
Remuera
Auckland 1050New ZealandPhone: +64-9-5231150e-mail: sprott@iconz.co.nz

SIDS 2008 Conference Tuesday, June 26

On Tuesday at the SIDS 2008 Conference (Portsmouth):

New Zealand researchers Professor Barry Taylor and Dr Sally Baddock will participate in conference proceedings.

If mattress-wrapping did not prevent cot death, by now hundreds of cot deaths would have occurred in New Zealand on "wrapped mattresses". But during the 13 years since mattress-wrapping commenced, no such death has been reported.

Furthermore, New Zealand Professor Ed Mitchell's research published in the European Journal of Pediatrics (1) in February 2008 demonstrates the efficacy of mattress-wrapping in preventing cot death (SIDS).

Since the commencement of mattress-wrapping in 1995, in "Case-Control" terms there have been two groups of babies in New Zealand:

Babies who slept on wrapped mattresses: Case babies
Babies who did not sleep on wrapped mattresses: Control babies

Statistical analysis (using Dr Mitchell's data):

Total number of live births in New Zealand from 1995 to 2007 (inclusive): 748,300

Using an incidence of mattress-wrapping of 21.7% (as reported in Dr Mitchell's research):

Number of Case babies: 748,300 x 0.217 = 162,380
Number of Control babies: 748,300 x 0.783 = 585,920

Cot deaths in New Zealand from 1995 to 2007 (inclusive): Around 860 (2)

Reported cot deaths among Case babies (babies who slept on wrapped mattresses): Nil

If mattress-wrapping had nil effect on the incidence of cot death, the number of cot deaths among the Case babies would have been: 860 / 585,920 x 162,380 = 238

Since there has been no cot death among the Case babies, the efficacy of mattress-wrapping in preventing cot death was in the ratio 238 / zero.

However, there is no meaningful solution to the equation x = a/zero where "a" is a real number. This situation is overcome by positing that the number of cot deaths among the Case babies was "very much less than 1”, denoted by the nomenclature <<1.>>1 means “very much greater than 1”.)

Using this nomenclature, the ratio of effectiveness of mattress-wrapping in preventing cot death is:

Effectiveness = 238 divided by <<1,>>238

Thus in statistical terms the efficacy of mattress-wrapping in preventing cot death is: Very much greater than 238 times the efficacy of all other items of cot death prevention advice combined

See http://www.cotlife2000.co.nz/ for further information

Notes:
1. Eur J Pediatr 2008; 167(2): 251-252. A postal survey conducted among 400 Auckland (New Zealand) mothers regarding practices adopted for cot death prevention reported the incidence of mattress-wrapping as 21.7%.
2. Source of statistics: New Zealand Ministry of Health.

-----------------------------------------
Issued by:
T J Sprott OBE MSc PhD FNZIC
Consulting chemist & forensic scientist
10 Combes Road
Remuera
Auckland 1050
New Zealand
Phone: +64-9-5231150
e-mail: sprott@iconz.co.nz

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

TWO NEW RESEARCH STUDIES CONFIRM TOXIC GAS THEORY FOR COT DEATH (SIDS)

4 June 2008

MEDIA RELEASE FOR PUBLICATION

TWO NEW RESEARCH STUDIES CONFIRM TOXIC GAS THEORY FOR COT DEATH (SIDS)

Two new research studies confirm the toxic gas theory for the cause of cot death, says New Zealand cot death prevention expert Dr Jim Sprott OBE.

1. Joint New Zealand and German research published in the June 2008 issue of Pediatrics (1) reported that 15.6% of cot death babies in the New Zealand Cot Death Study (1987-1990) and 28.1% of cot death babies in a German case-control study were found with their heads covered. The researchers noted that the infants whose heads were covered were often very sweaty.

2. British research published in Lancet on 31 May 2008 (2) found that bacterial infection was present in nearly half of all babies who died of sudden and unexplained death at a London hospital between 1996 and 2005. Using autopsy samples from 470 babies who died suddenly and unexpectedly, the researchers reported harmful bacteria in 181 of the 365 babies whose deaths were unexplained.

"Many bacterial infections result in increased body heat in a baby; and so does head covering during sleep," stated Dr Sprott. "It is well known that the major part of heat dissipation by babies occurs through their heads."

Overheating has long been identified as a cot death risk factor.

"Both of the new research findings confirm the toxic gas theory for cot death," stated Dr Sprott. "Both studies demonstrate a mechanism of overheating in cot death babies which would have resulted in increased temperature in the baby's sleeping environment. If bedding in a baby's cot is capable of the toxic gas generation which is the cause of cot death, a rise in temperature of (say) three degrees Celsius in the cot can result in a tenfold increase in the rate of gas generation."

The risk of cot death death posed by overheating is eliminated by preventing exposure of the baby to the toxic gases in the first place, stated Dr Sprott. "That is achieved by wrapping the baby's mattress in accordance with a strictly specified protocol, and using specified bedding on top of the wrapped mattress."

Since 1995 a mattress-wrapping protocol for cot death prevention has been publicised nationwide in New Zealand. On the basis of three studies into the incidence of mattress-wrapping in New Zealand (3), it is calculated that at least 170,000 New Zealand babies have slept on "wrapped mattresses".

There has been no reported cot death among those babies.

"If a baby is sleeping on a mattress wrapped in accordance with the cot death prevention protocol, overheating cannot pose cot death risk to the baby," stated Dr Sprott.

Notes:
1. Mitchell et al, Head Covering and the Risk for SIDS: Findings From the New Zealand and German SIDS Case-Control Studies, Pediatrics 2008; 121: e1478-e1483.
2. Weber et al, Infection and sudden unexpected death in infancy: a systematic retrospective case review", Lancet 2008; 371: 1848-1853.
3. NZ Med J 2000; 113: 8-10; NZ Med J 2000; 113: 326-327; Eur J Pediatrics 2008; 167(2): 251-252 (Short Report).

Media release issued by:T J Sprott OBE MSc PhD FNZICConsulting chemist & forensic scientist10 Combes RoadRemueraAuckland 1050NEW ZEALANDPhone/fax: +64-9-5231150e-mail: sprott@iconz.co.nz

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mattress Off-gassing Confusion on the Net

About once every 6 months, I surf the internet to see what's happening out there and what people are saying about SIDS and mattress wrapping. The past couple of days I have read numerous comments and misconceptions, largely due to skeptics who want to rely on medical doctors or organizations who, oddly enough, get their information from other medical doctors or organizations. So I'd like to address some of the things I have read.

One discussion I came across was about the chemicals that off-gas from mattresses. The assumption in regards to SIDS, is that newer mattresses are more dangerous, because they will obviously have more chemicals off-gassing. People have heard something about gases coming from mattresses, and incorrectly tie it to the new mattress off-gassing, and incorrectly tie that to the toxic gas theory for crib death. The truth is that mattresses are made with chemicals that are not healthy. The truth is that these chemicals off-gas during the life of the mattress. In regards to SIDS, the toxic nerve gases responsible for crib death are different from the chemicals that off-gas. These toxic gases are formed when a fungus, which grows in used mattresses, consumes the chemicals in the mattresses. So even when your mattress no longer has that "new mattress smell," the danger is still there for your baby.

It is important to note that ALL conventional mattresses, from crib to adult sizes, have these same chemicals, most notably fire retardants. So in regards to SIDS, a baby is not safer in an adult bed. As a matter of fact, in addition to the toxic gases that are surely coming from the adult bed (as it is even more used than most crib mattresses) there are additional hazards from poly-filled comforters, pillows, and other bedding in an adult bed. Contrary to popular belief, this is not only because they are suffocation hazards, but because these bedding items also contain the same dangerous chemicals that can produce toxic gases when they are not laundered frequently (because the fungus is allowed to grow).

It is also important to note that just because you can no longer smell your mattress, it does not mean it is finished off-gassing. When our Tempur-pedic mattress was about two years old, the smell was no longer detectable. We wrapped it with a polyethylene sheeting to test out the sheeting. A few months down the road, I accidentally ripped a small cut in the sheeting. The smell coming from the cut was the "new mattress" smell all over again. Nobody really knows how long it takes for something to completely off-gas, but the truth of the matter is, by the time it is almost done off-gassing, you will probably have already replaced it.

Another discussion I came across on the internet was about Dr. Sprott, the supplier of BabeSafe products. Here is a blog entry in particular that is quite alarming: http://www.ap-baby.com/2006/10/sids_and_mattresswrapping.html
Since there is no way to comment on this blog, I will comment here. Since this is a long blog post, I will pick out the comments that are most troublesome:

"Unfortunately the only sources I can find which cite mattress wrapping as a factor in reducing SIDS deaths are secondhand." I'm not sure what this means. How can the sources be secondhand, when they are being reported by the same person who is doing the research?

"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." Don't you think it strange that instead of mentioning it and disclaiming it, they are totally ignoring mattress-wrapping all together? Are you under the assumption that because they don't mention it, it invalidates mattress-wrapping? I'm not sure why one would draw this conclusion, unless she is under the impression that government entities exist in order to protect citizens. I may have believed that in high school, but I have seen too much and realize the politics involved in EVERYTHING. Let's take a break from the SIDS discussion for a moment so that I can make a point. Do you know what causes AIDS? I was taught in high school, and still see in the media, that HIV causes AIDS. Are you sure? Read this:
http://www.virusmyth.com/aids/hiv/kmreason.htm
Now what would you say about HIV and AIDS? The problem is that we are giving credence to organizations who have not earned it and don't deserve it. Organizations must also do research, and ignoring someone else's does not give them the right to be heard over those who have done the work.

"(1)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. (2)Secondly, this is flawed logic. Disproved??? How would you "disprove" this??? (3) 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????" There is a lot in this statement, so I will take it one step at a time. (1) A SIDS organization would ignore a possible cause of SIDS because accepting it would put them out of a job. Bill Gates donated $11 million to a SIDS organization. (And we pay millions of dollars in tax money to find the "cure" for SIDS). It's the same reason that the cancer organizations hide what they already know about cures and prevention strategies! They don't do the work to disprove cancer prevention strategies or alternative therapies, they just ignore that they exist! (2) You would disprove mattress wrapping by babies having died on wrapped mattresses. But that hasn't happened. Do you really think THAT would be kept off the evening news? Where are the lawsuits? Where are the grieving parents who trusted Dr. Sprott yet lost their babies? They don't exist. (3) Nobody said "800 people used mattress wrapping." I'm not sure where this figure came from. Check out these correct mattress wrapping statistics. MANY more than 800 people have used mattress wrapping.

"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." **IF** they wanted to. Exactly my point. If you really did the research, you would know that government regulations are what required the flame retardants in the mattresses in the first place. In what country do you ever find bureaucrats standing in line to incriminate themselves? And to what "bandwagon" are you referring? I thought it was only one man pushing the mattress wrapping campaign?

"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." You are right- it doesn't make sense. But that doesn't mean mattress wrapping is invalid. Does THAT make sense? To ignore it along with the organizations who have no right to your blind trust?

Dr. Sprott is not the only scientist or doctor out there who promotes mattress wrapping. As a matter of fact, he did not discover the cause of SIDS on his own. For people who just don't want to accept Dr. Sprott and his findings by what they read on the web, I encourage them to get a copy of Cot Death Cover-up? where they can learn what has really happened behind the scenes in the SIDS/crib death industry. You can read chapter one and decide if you want to read more. What is not fair is people accusing Dr. Sprott of inventing the whole mattress wrapping campaign to sell mattresses or BabeSafe covers.

Some other things I have read include information on wrapping a baby's mattress with foil or cotton. I don't know about foil, but cotton does not ward off the toxic gases OR the chemicals off-gassing from the mattress. I've also read about people using organic, or natural mattresses, and then using waterproof mattress pads under baby, which is just as bad as using conventional mattresses! One thing that really blows people away, because it is supposed to be so natural, is that wool is also not recommended for use under babies in regards to crib death prevention. This is because wool and sheepskin often contain phosphorus, arsenic, or antimony, all of which can lead to toxic nerve gas production.

So in a nutshell, you MUST sit down and read all the information regarding Dr. Sprott's work. Do not take a part of it, something you heard from someone else, and your own opinion and expect to have the facts. You can learn more at Prevent SIDS, and there are media releases here at my blog if you would like to call Dr. Sprott yourself. Because the media isn't doing it, and our government isn't doing it, it is up to us as parents to do the research and act, whether it's protecting our own babies or informing other parents.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

NEW ZEALAND COT DEATH (SIDS) RESEARCH INVALIDATED BY BIASED SAMPLING AND INCORRECT STATISTICAL ANALYSIS

JOURNAL EDITOR REFERS RESEARCH TO PUBLISHER FOR LEGAL PURPOSES

New Zealand cot death (SIDS) research by Professor E A Mitchell published in the February 2008 issue of the European Journal of Pediatrics (1) is invalidated by biased sampling and incorrect statistical analysis, says New Zealand cot death prevention expert Dr Jim Sprott OBE.

The research reports a 2005 postal survey of 400 Auckland mothers regarding practices adopted for cot death prevention. (2) On the basis of 280 responses, Dr Mitchell reported the incidence of mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention as being 21.7%; and concluded that even if mattress-wrapping were 100% effective in preventing cot death, the practice could have reduced the New Zealand cot death rate by only 22% from 1994 to 2004 (as compared with an actual reduction of 63%).

"Dr Mitchell's research is invalid," stated Dr Sprott.

"First, the research sample was biased. The mothers were recruited from the birth list at Auckland City Hospital, which is a New Zealand Ministry of Health hospital; and the Ministry's policy on mattress-wrapping is that there is no evidence of a link between mattresses and cot death risk. Obviously, sourcing survey participants from Auckland City Hospital (many of whom would have attended antenatal classes at which the Ministry's policy on mattress-wrapping was presented) will have resulted in a highly unreliable statistic for the incidence of mattress-wrapping in the general community. It is likely that the incidence of mattress-wrapping has been under-reported."

In order to survey the incidence of mattress-wrapping in the New Zealand community, survey participants must be sourced from records of the New Zealand Registrar of Births, not records of a Ministry of Health hospital, said Dr Sprott.

"Secondly, Dr Mitchell's statistical analysis is nonsense," stated Dr Sprott. "In any group of medical interventions aimed at the same result (for example, prevention of a particular disease), it would be entirely possible for one intervention practised by (say) 40% of a population group to result in (say) 70% of the reduction of the incidence of the disease. As a matter of statistics, the efficacy of a particular intervention is not by definition linked to the percentage number of the group who practise that intervention.

"Dr Mitchell's claim that if 22% of babies sleep on wrapped mattresses, that can account for only 22% of the reduction in the cot death rate, is simply incorrect."

Dr Sprott said it was noteworthy that the medical statistician involved in the Auckland survey (Dr A W Stewart of Auckland University Medical School) was not listed as a co-author of Dr Mitchell's mattress-wrapping research published in the European Journal of Pediatrics, despite the fact that Dr Stewart co-authored other results from the survey not relating to mattress-wrapping and published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in 2006. (3)

New Zealand Doctor Online, which published a report of Dr Mitchell's mattress-wrapping research on 11 December 2007, has now amended its website claim that "Mattress wrapping doesn't account for fall in SIDS deaths".

"Clearly, that claim by New Zealand Doctor Online was defamatory of mattress-wrapping products which are marketed for cot death prevention," said Dr Sprott. "Since 1995 an estimated 165,000 New Zealand babies have slept on mattresses wrapped for cot death prevention. There has been no reported cot death among those babies, and furthermore the New Zealand cot death rate has fallen by 67%. (4)

The Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Pediatrics has referred Dr Mitchell's research to the publisher of the journal (Springer Science & Business Media) for legal purposes.

Dr Sprott noted that Dr Mitchell's research may be publicised at the 10th SIDS International Conference, to be held in Britain in June 2008. Accordingly, Dr Sprott will be notifying cot death researchers internationally regarding the biased sampling and invalid statistical analysis in Dr Mitchell's research.
Notes:
1. Mitchell, E A, Wrapping a cot mattress in plastic does not explain the continuing fall in SIDS mortality, European Journal of Pediatrics 2008; 167(2): 251-252 (Short Report).
2. "Survey of infant care practices that have been recommended for SIDS prevention", Auckland Ethics Committee reference AKY/04/08/217. Researchers: E Mitchell, L Hutchison, A Stewart, D Tipene-Leach, R Haretuku, M Battin.
3. Hutchison, L, Stewart, A W, Mitchell, E, SIDS-protective infant care practices among Auckland, New Zealand mothers, NZ Med J 2006; 119(1247): U2365.
4. Mattress-wrapping statistic based on two research studies which reported the incidence of mattress-wrapping in New Zealand: NZ Med J 2000; 113: 8-10; NZ Med J 2000; 113: 326-327. Source of cot death statistics: New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Media release issued by:
T J Sprott OBE MSc PhD FNZIC
Consulting chemist & forensic scientist
10 Combes Road
Remuera
Auckland 1050
NEW ZEALAND
Phone/fax: +64-9-5231150