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Sprott Criticises MOH Following Baby's Death

T J Sprott OBE

27 July 1999



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Dr Jim Sprott has strongly criticised the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand Cot Death Association for refusing to publicise safe mattress-wrapping instructions to parents of young babies.

Dr Sprott spoke out in response to publicity regarding the death of a Wellington baby on a mattress which had been left in the manufacturer's plastic shipping wrapper. "If the Ministry of Health and the Cot Death Association faced up to their responsi- bility to publicise correct mattress-wrapping instructions, this sort of death would not occur," he said.

For over four years Dr Sprott has been promoting mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention, which involves the use of strictly specified polythene. There has been no reported cot death or suffocation on any mattress wrapped to his specifications, and the cot death rate (especially among the Pakeha community) has fallen markedly since mattress-wrapping commenced.

"Mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention is here to stay," said Dr Sprott. "Tens of thousands of parents have wrapped their babies' mattresses, and they are continuing to do so. They know a successful babycare practice when they see one."

Dr Sprott stressed, however, that it was imperative for babies' mattresses to be wrapped correctly using a BabeSafe mattress cover or thick clear polythene sheeting.

"The Ministry of Health and the Cot Death Association know the requirements," he said, "but they don't bother to tell parents. They're very pleased to be able to report the reductions in cot death, but they refuse to ensure that parents go about mattress- wrapping safely. It's reprehensible."

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