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MOH Criticised Following Inquest Hearing

Sprott Criticises Ministry Of Health Official Following Inquest Hearing

Dr Jim Sprott has strongly criticised Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor for Child and Youth Health at the Ministry of Health, for failing to publicise mattress-wrapping instructions to parents of young babies.

Following an inquest hearing at the Wellington Coroner's Court today, which related to the suffocation of baby Olivia Friend on a plastic- covered mattress, Dr Sprott called on Dr Tuohy to commence immediate publicity on how to wrap mattresses for the purpose of cot death prevention.

Since late 1994 Dr Sprott has publicly advocated mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention. Since that time the New Zealand cot death rate has fallen by 48%, and there has been no reported cot death among the tens of thousands of babies who have slept on mattresses wrapped to his specifications.

"Parents are going to continue wrapping mattresses. They know mattress-wrapping has a 100% success record in cot death prevention. But the Ministry won't tell them how to do it safely."

Dr Sprott said he sympathised greatly with the parents of baby Olivia, who had been let down by the Ministry of Health.

Dr Sprott envisages that legal class actions could be taken by cot death parents against the Ministry of Health and the Cot Death Association for failing to advise parents to wrap their babies' mattresses for cot death prevention.

"The Ministry and the Association are fully aware that my mattress- wrapping campaign has been totally successful," said Dr Sprott. "They know that there has been no reported cot death on a wrapped mattress, and that the cot death rate has fallen by 48% since mattress-wrapping began. Their failure to tell parents to wrap mattresses could be construed as legal negligence."

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