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New Zealand SIDS Death Rate Decreases

Written by Pathways Magazine   
Friday, 01 June 2007 00:00

New statistics released by the New Zealand Ministry of Health show that the national rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) fell by 70% after an educational campaign in wrapping mattresses with special polyethelene covers was begun. The program began after research by a NZ scientist showed a link between SIDS and the toxic fumes emitted by mattresses.

According to the statistics, NZ Maori babies are 10 times more likely than NZ European (Pakeha) babies to die of SIDS.2 Following the implementation of mattress-wrapping by the Pakeha community over the last eleven years (with an 85% reduction in their SIDS rate), New Zealand has the highest inter-ethnic SIDS disparity of any country in the world.

In contrast to the US and UK, where back sleeping has been adopted as a method to prevent crib death, New Zealand began to publicize mattress-wrapping in 1994, with the practice widely adopted. Since then, the rate of deaths on unwrapped mattresses has continued to increase, while no deaths have been reported for babies sleeping on wrapped mattresses. Another advantage to this solution is that babies can sleep in a variety of positions and not suffer from plagiocephaly, or flattened heads.

The results of the New Zealand mattress-wrapping program have been published in two peer-reviewed journals of environmental medicine3 and far exceed the results of any other SIDS prevention program in the world.

Pathways Issue 14 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #14.

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