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Sprott Calls For Resignation Of Health Official

Dr Jim Sprott has today strongly criticised Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor, Child and Youth Health at the Ministry of Health, for misleading parents on the issue of infant suffocation.

On 27 July 1999 Dr Tuohy stated in a Ministry of Health media release that plastic thicker than 100 microns had been implicated in infant suffocation. The claim also appears on the Ministry's website.

"I now have Dr Tuohy's research data," said Dr Sprott, "and his claim about suffocation risk on plastic thicker than 100 microns is totally unsubstantiated. In one research paper he consulted, the figure wasn't 100 microns - it was only 25 microns. In the other paper, the thickness of plastic on which suffocations occurred wasn't recorded at all."

Dr Sprott publicises mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention using clear polythene with a minimum thickness of 125 microns. He has expressed concern that because of Dr Tuohy's publicity parents might decide not to wrap their babies' mattresses, and that cot deaths could result from that decision.

"Suffocation is an important issue for parents," said Dr Sprott. "For Dr Tuohy to implicate a particular thickness of plastic in infant suffocation, when his first data was wrong and his second data was non-existent, is bad enough. But for him to publicise his claim is appalling. In my opinion, Dr Tuohy's conduct disqualifies him from the position of a Ministry of Health advisor to parents - he has misled them, and he should resign."


ends

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