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Cot Death Address Criticises Parents Care

6 February 2000

MEDIA RELEASE

BRITISH RESEARCHER DUE TO ADDRESS NZ CONFERENCE CRITICISES COT DEATH PARENTS FOR "SUB-OPTIMAL CARE"

Dr Jim Sprott has described as appalling the attitude of a British cot death researcher who is due to address a cot death conference in Auckland on Friday 11th February.

According to Dr Peter Fleming, who is an invited speaker at the SIDS 2000 Conference, two-thirds of cot deaths are the result of babies not being cared for properly.

On 2 February Dr Fleming was reported in the British Telegraph newspaper as stating that "sub-optimal" care was involved in 60% of cot death cases; and that in 6% of cases, death was probably due to maltreatment, including deliberate harm, neglect and "extremely poor care".

"It is disgraceful that the New Zealand organising committee of the SIDS 2000 Conference should permit Dr Fleming to have a public platform in this country," said Dr Sprott. "It is hard enough for bereaved parents to lose a child to cot death. But for blame to be heaped on them in this way by Dr Fleming is utterly reprehensible."

Sponsors of the SIDS 2000 Conference include the New Zealand Ministry of Health and the New Zealand Cot Death Association. The conference programme chairman, Dr Ed Mitchell, is Chairman of the Cot Death Association.

"I call on these organisations and Dr Mitchell to tell the New Zealand public whether they endorse Dr Fleming's view," said Dr Sprott. "They are obviously willing for him to promote his ideas in this country. Does that include his notion that two-thirds of cot deaths are the result of bad parenting?"

Dr Sprott said that New Zealanders would be outraged by Dr Fleming's statements. "The invitation for Dr Fleming to address the SIDS 2000 Conference should be withdrawn," he said. Contact:

Dr Pat Tuohy, Ministry of Health (ph: 04-5693388)

Dr Ed Mitchell, NZ Cot Death Association (ph: 09-5204467)

Mr Lee Schoushkoff, NZ Cot Death Association (ph: 09-5752344)

Ms Felicity Price, Chairperson, SIDS 2000 Conference (ph: 03-3554535)


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