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Minister Of Health Throws Toys Out Of The Cot

3 August 2006

Minister Of Health Throws Toys Out Of The Cot

Cot death expert Dr Jim Sprott has slammed the Minister of Health for refusing to engage in correspondence regarding the results of the New Zealand mattress-wrapping campaign.

In a letter dated 1 August 2006 acknowledging Dr Sprott’s mattress-wrapping campaign for cot death prevention, the Minister of Health stated that he was “aware of the Ministry of Health’s position on the evidence for mattress-wrapping” and that he did not propose to correspond with Dr Sprott further on the matter.

“This is a ridiculous statement by the Minister,” said Dr Sprott. “His letter dated 1 August is the first item of correspondence that I have received from him.”

Since the commencement of mattress-wrapping in 1995, the nationwide cot death rate has fallen by 70% and the Pakeha rate by around 85%. By the end of 1996 there had been 230 cot deaths on unwrapped mattresses (or parallel sleeping situations) versus nil cot deaths on "wrapped mattresses". By the end of 2000 the figure was 510 to nil. Now, in August 2006, it is around 830 to nil.*

“The Ministry of Health has all this evidence,” stated Dr Sprott. “The Ministry has stood by and watched 830 New Zealand babies die needlessly of cot death, knowing all the time that no cot deaths were occurring on wrapped mattresses.

“Now we have a new piece of information: the Minister of Health couldn’t care less about that situation. He supports the Ministry’s untenable stance. What’s more, he has thrown his toys out of the cot and won’t engage in correspondence on the issue.

“As a professional scientist who has corresponded with Government officials for decades, I must say it’s rare to see such a childish display from a Cabinet Minister. I shall, of course, continue to send correspondence to the Minister of Health on cot death issues as the occasion arises. Perhaps he will change his mind and write back once in a while.”

* Source of statistics: New Zealand Ministry of Health

ENDS

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