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Scrap Maori SIDS Prevention Unit - Jim Sprott

18 March 2001

Sprott Calls For National Maori SIDS Prevention Unit To Be Scrapped

Following release last week of the latest cot death figures (for 1999), Dr Jim Sprott is calling for the National Maori SIDS Prevention Unit to be abolished.

1999 figures compiled to date (obtained by Dr Sprott from the Ministry of Health under Official Information) show that in 1999 the number of Maori cot deaths rose by at least 33% over the previous year, whereas the number of Pakeha cot deaths dropped by around 30%.*

Maori babies were about eight times more likely to die of cot death than Pakeha babies.**

For the past six years Dr Sprott has conducted a nationwide mattress-wrapping campaign for cot death prevention. "Pakeha parents have adopted mattress-wrapping with enthusiasm," said Dr Sprott, "and the results are plain to see: Pakeha New Zealand now has a very low cot death rate. By contrast, the Maori cot death rate is one of the highest in the world." **

The National Maori SIDS Prevention Unit is strongly opposed to mattress-wrapping.

"For years now the Maori SIDS Prevention Unit has omitted to tell Maori parents about mattress-wrapping," said Dr Sprott. "In the meantime, the Pakeha cot death rate has plummeted. It's high time the Maori Unit was scrapped. No baby has died of cot death on a wrapped mattress."

Since the commencement of the mattress-wrapping campaign, the New Zealand cot death rate has fallen by 48% and the Pakeha rate by an estimated 70%. "These reductions cannot be attributed to orthodox cot death prevention advice," said Dr Sprott. "There has been no material change in that advice since 1992."

* * * * * * *

* "Pakeha" means non-Maori non-Pacific Island.

** Using cot death figures provided by the Ministry of Health and live birth figures sourced from the Department of Statistics, calculations show that the 1999 Pakeha cot death rate was 0.4 deaths per 1000 live births and the Maori rate was at least 3.4 deaths per 1000 live births.

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