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Flat Head Epidemic Completely Avoidable

Flat Head Epidemic Completely Avoidable

Cot death expert Dr Jim Sprott is advising parents concerned about head flattening to wrap babies’ mattresses for cot death prevention and stop sleeping babies face-up.

His advice follows a warning by paediatricians in “New Zealand Doctor” magazine last month about the upsurge of misshapen and flat heads among babies. As a result of face-up sleeping, one in five babies develops a flat head by age four months if parents do not take preventive action.

“The epidemic of head flattening and resulting deformity among babies is completely avoidable,” stated Dr Sprott. “There is no need for babies to sleep face-up. If a baby’s mattress is wrapped for cot death prevention, the baby can sleep on his or her side at no risk of cot death.”

Dr Sprott has been publicising a mattress-wrapping protocol for cot death prevention since 1995. Since the commencement of mattress-wrapping, around 830 cot deaths have occurred on unwrapped mattresses (or parallel bedding situations), but there have been no reported cot deaths on wrapped mattresses.

"A baby sleeping on a wrapped mattress can't become exposed to the gases which cause cot death," stated Dr Sprott. "Therefore the baby doesn't need to sleep face-up. We could stop the head flattening epidemic right now if Plunket and paediatricians told parents to wrap babies' mattresses and to sleep babies in the side-sleeping position.

"This isn't new advice," said Dr Sprott. "For decades Plunket told parents to cover babies' mattresses with an impermeable cover (at that time surgical rubber sheeting) and to sleep babies on alternating sides for consecutive sleeps. It was correct advice. It prevented cot death and avoided head flattening.

"One wonders why Plunket stopped providing this important advice to parents."


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