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Maori SIDS Prevention Unit Sprott Response

Sprott Responds To Medical Director Of National Maori SIDS Prevention Unit

On 18 March 2001 I issued a media release calling for the National Maori SIDS Prevention Unit to be abolished. Dr David Tipene-Leach, Medical Director of the Unit, has issued a statement regarding my media release.

1. Dr Tipene-Leach is quite right that the statistics in my media release were not final statistics. They were official statistics recorded to date. If there is any change in the 1999 Maori cot death figure, it can only be UPWARDS.

2. It's likely that when the final figures for 1999 come out, the increase in the number of Maori cot deaths from 1998 to 1999 won't be 33% - it will be more than 33%. And instead of Maori babies in 1999 being about eight times more likely to die of cot death than Pakeha babies, that ratio could be nine times more likely.

3. Dr Tipene-Leach should consider the following: An estimated 100,000 New Zealand babies have slept on wrapped mattresses over the last six years. And there has been no reported cot death among those babies.

4. But over the same period more than 400 babies have died of cot death - ALL on unwrapped mattresses. That means all those cot deaths occurred in situations where parents (if they followed any cot death prevention advice) followed the advice which the Maori SIDS Prevention Unit promotes.

5. In the past fortnight I have been in contact with three Maori doctors on the topic of cot death prevention. They all made it plain that they do not agree with Dr Tipene-Leach.

6. It's interesting that following my media release, it appears that no statement of support for the Maori SIDS Prevention Unit was issued by the Ministry of Health or by babycare organisations (such as Plunket) or by orthodox cot death researchers outside the Unit. The Maori SIDS Prevention Unit was left to issue its own statement.

7. When it comes to cot death prevention, it would seem that the Maori SIDS Prevention Unit does not have much support.


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