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Dr Sprott Welcomes Coroner's Recommendation

5 March 2001



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Dr Jim Sprott has welcomed a recommendation by the Wellington Coroner that the Plunket Society give consideration to ensuring that parents who wrap their babies' mattresses do so in a safe manner. (Mattress-wrapping is practised by many parents for cot death prevention.)

The Coroner's recommendation is contained in his findings released last week regarding the death of a Paraparaumu baby who suffocated in March 1999 on a cot mattress which had been left in its original thin plastic shipping wrapper.

A Plunket nurse had visited the baby's home but had not examined the baby's cot to see how it was made up.

"Plunket nurses see over 90% of New Zealand babies," said Dr Sprott. "They have a clear responsibility to ensure that those parents who choose to wrap their babies' mattresses do so correctly."

"Parents are aware that no baby has died of cot death on a wrapped mattress," said Dr Sprott. "Large numbers of them have wrapped their babies' mattresses - and they will continue to do so."

The Ministry of Health's chief adviser on child health, Dr Pat Tuohy, told the Coroner's Court that one of the roles of Plunket nurses is to assess safety factors in the home. He said that where the child is an infant, the cot is clearly an area which needs to be considered from a safety point of view.

Dr Sprott has been publicising mattress-wrapping in New Zealand for over six years. Since that time the New Zealand cot death rate has fallen by 48%, and there has been no reported cot death on any mattress wrapped to his specifications.


Mr Paul Baigent Chief Executive Plunket Society Ph: (04) 471-0190 Mobile: 021-650954

Dr Russell Wills National Paediatrician Plunket Society Ph: 04-3855541/Ext 6861 Mobile: 025-521408

T James Sprott OBE MSc PhD FNZIC Consulting Chemist Forensic Scientist
Phone & Fax: 64-9-5231150

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