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Can Greening Your Baby’s Bedding Help Prevent SIDS?

30 November 2010 11 Comments

Cecilia awakens and goes in to check on her sweet, 6 month-old, Jennifer, who has been sleeping ever-so-quietly. Jennifer had just learned how to laugh really hard, grow a tooth, eat raspberries, and turn herself over. The latter milestone would normally be considered a lofty accomplishment and the beginning of much greater feats, but for Jennifer, it was her last one.

She passed into the next life 3 hours earlier and now was motionless, with dark discoloration on her otherwise angelic face.

I wish that Jennifer’s story was fictitious, developed for the purpose of drawing in an audience. But Jennifer was the very real daughter of Cecilia and Tony, and this was a nightmare they would relive repeatedly, always wondering if there was something they may have exposed her to, or something they could have protected her from.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a mystery to many. We hear too many stories of healthy babies not waking up in the morning and their parents’ heartbreaking struggle to find answers to their babies’ death.

SIDS is the number-one killer of infants under a year old. First defined in 1953, by 1996 there had been over a million deaths attributed to SIDS. In the summer of 1988, an unlikely entrepreneur crossed the path of a British scientist, and they theorized a new explanation.

In his provocative and important book, Cot Death Cover-Up, Dr. Jim Sprott, a consulting chemist and forensic scientist, explains his  theory and gives simple advice to parents on how prevent crib death.

Dr Sprott maintains that:

  • Crib death (SIDS) is not a medical matter. It is caused by poisonous gases generated in the baby’s sleeping environment. The gases concerned are phosphines, arsines, and stibines, which are all toxic nerve gases.
  • The gases are produced in a baby’s crib (or other sleeping environment) by the action of common household fungus on phosphorus, arsenic and antimony present in the mattress and in certain other bedding. The danger of crib death increases as a mattress is re-used from one baby to the next.
  • Why do crib death babies show no symptoms? The toxic gases which cause crib death are agents which depress the baby’s central nervous system, resulting in cessation of the heart and lung functions. Babies who die of crib death are not “ill” in the medical sense; they are poisoned by environmental gases.

Dr. Sprott’s solution is to change the bedding to a “greener” alternative by keeping the gases away from the babies breathing zone. He maintains that babies can be protected from this gaseous poisoning by enclosing mattresses in a gas-impermeable cover which in itself is not capable of gas generation.

Dr. Sprott’s theories have provoked some controversy, but why take a chance on off gassing from synthetic bedding? Why put your baby down to sleep on anything but a ‘green’ bed?

A sincere ‘thank you’ goes out to JJ Klein from Stop SIDS Now for Jennifer’s story and for helping me become more aware of such an important topic.

Another option for a greener bed is to purchase a certified organic mattress. Naturepedic manufacturers superior quality crib mattresses. I used it with my second son, Jesse, from his crib days to his toddler bed and absolutely loved it. To get to know more about the Naturepedic mattresses, you can read a detailed product review . If you own a Naturepedic mattress, please share your comments with like-minded moms!

Please spread the word on better bedding for our most precious resource- our children!

Ravit is a member of the BornFree Mom Panel.

Please share one tip for preventing SIDS. One person who shares will be sent a BornFree Drinking Cup in the color of their choice.

*BornFree always recommends that you check with a medical professional before taking any parenting advice.

The winner is Sarah with the email address write*******@hotmail.com!

11 Comments »

  • Sarah said:

    I firmly believe that newborns up until the age of 1 year old should never be left alone or left to sleep on their own. Checking on the baby frequently is important. There should be no other items in the crib, only a flat fitted sheet and baby should be sleeping on their back.

  • chrystal said:

    I purchased an organic mattress after my son was born for this exact reason. The thought of his little lungs breathing in all of the anti fungals and fire retardants made me sick.
    It was expensive but in my opinion well worth it!
    My tip for preventing sids is to discontinue using bumper pads in the crib. If you feel you must use them, change to the mesh type ones.

  • Lindsay said:

    Always put your baby to sleep on their back. Exposure to second-hand smoke also increases the risk of SIDS.

  • cfranic said:

    reading this almost made me cry! I am so sorry for this family. I could not imagine losing a child. Coming close was enough to shatter my world. I am a big Back to sleep campaigner as well as I believe a baby should only be put in their own crib. Some people may co-sleep or bed share, but myself I am not comfortable with any of that. “naked cribs” as I call it are the only way to go. Very interesting to hear about this, “green” bedding…I am intrigued..

  • Kristi said:

    This story and those alike are extremely heartbreaking. My son just turned 1 and I always check in on him during the night. I seem to get up to use the bathroom a few times and always sneak into his room to check in on him. I remember seeing him when he first started rolling over onto his stomach in his crib and night and freaked out. Didn’t expect him to do this that fast but was told by my doctor and nurse that if he is strong enough to roll over and back again then he is fine. I never thought of an organic mattress before so I will have to research that when we have a second baby. I think just making sure your baby’s room is set up the way the experts suggest it to prevent SIDS. Make sure your baby is not too hot (just one layer more of clothing for them than you would use); never any 2nd hand smoke (don’t even get me started on this one!!). Breastfeed as long as you can, if you can’t then maybe try pumping and then using bottles for the breastmilk.
    But, the take-home message is that our babies are precious and mean more than the world to us all so we need to do whatever we can to ensure their safety. Sadly, there are still going to be some deaths that I hope one day will not have to happen. I remember hearing on the news earlier this year about some testing that discovered that there was something in the baby’s brain that prevented them from moving their head, therefore, they would breathe back in the carbon monoxide gases. I hope researchers can find out 100% what causes SIDS and how to prevent it. I couldn’t imagine what those parents went through as they walked into their baby’s room.

  • Lori said:

    We never considered an organic mattress. When Olivia was born we were paranoid first time parents waking to check on her frequently. It turns out that co-sleeping worked for us but I never took into consideration how the choice of our bedding can affect our children.

    Interesting – and heartbreaking – read!

  • Stephanie said:

    I don’t nessicarily believe that “Greening” your babe will have any effect, but then again, thats why I’m not a Doctor.

    I know in my personal experience, I was very paranoid when my daughter was just a wee tiny baby. I would constantly creep in, on numerous occaisons just to make sure her little chest was still rising and falling, or if I didn’t hear anything on the monitor, I’d be going up to check. Most of my friends laughed at me, but with all the horror stories you hear of SIDS, I’m sure they’ll understand once they have babes.

    Since there is no known cause for SIDS, I would assume that trying to better your baby’s (and even our own) environments could possibly help, there is no harm in trying.

    I guess my number one tip would be to always lay your baby on their back, and never fill the crib with toys or bumper pads. Check on them often to ease your mind, and give your baby lots of hugs, kisses and snuggles :)

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