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Plunket Wrong Again About Safety of Mattress Wraps

Media Release for Publication

Plunket Gets It Wrong Again About the Safety of Mattress-Wrapping

Cot death expert Dr Jim Sprott is criticising the Plunket Society for making false claims about the safety of mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention.

His criticism follows a statement made this week by PlunketLine, who told a telephone caller that the mattress-wrapping product (the BabeSafe mattress cover) could cause her baby to overheat.

"This claim by PlunketLine is totally incorrect" stated Dr Sprott. "As a matter of thermodynamics, the layer of polythene on a wrapped mattress is so thin in relation to the thickness of the mattress that it has no measurable effect on the rate of heat transfer from the baby to the mattress itself. Put another way, the mattress wrap does not cause overheating."

Dr Sprott noted that this was not the first time Plunket had been wrong about the safety of mattress-wrapping. In 2000 Plunket was required to delete from its handbook "Thriving Under Five" a statement which falsely implied that mattress-wrapping could pose suffocation risk to babies.

"To date Plunket have not endorsed mattress-wrapping," stated Dr Sprott, "but that doesn't mean they can make false claims about the safety of the mattress-wrapping product."

Both the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (in 1999) and the Ministry of Health (in 2003) have stated that BabeSafe mattress covers are safe for babies.

In 1999-2000 the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission examined BabeSafe covers and cleared them for use on babies’ mattresses.

Mattress-wrapping commenced in New Zealand in 1995 and the BabeSafe cover came onto the market in 1996. Since the commencement of mattress-wrapping, around 830 babies have died on cot death on unwrapped mattresses (or parallel bedding situations), but there has been no reported cot death on a wrapped mattress. The nationwide cot death rate has fallen by 70% since mattress-wrapping began and the Pakeha rate has fallen by around 85%.

"Instead of defaming the mattress-wrapping product, Plunket should be telling parents to wrap babies’ mattresses," stated Dr Sprott. "Mattress-wrapping has a 100% success record in cot death prevention."


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