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Toxic Gas May Cause Cot Death - Health Boss

Director-General Of Health Concedes Toxic Gas A Possible Cause Of Cot Death

The Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi, has conceded that toxic gas may be a cause of cot death.

In a letter to Dr Jim Sprott dated 29 August 2000 Dr Poutasi stated that the Ministry regards gaseous poisoning as "one possible cause of SIDS".

Dr Sprott has called on Dr Poutasi to commence publicity advising parents to wrap their babies' mattresses for cot death prevention.

"Dr Poutasi can't have it both ways," said Dr Sprott. "She cannot on the one hand say that toxic gas is a possible cause of cot death, and on the other hand refuse to tell parents to wrap babies' mattresses."

In this regard, Dr Sprott explained, the toxic gas theory is quite unlike other cot death theories (e.g. the narrow airways theory). "Unlike other cot death theories, the toxic gas theory has a known preventive measure. So if an advisory agency like the Ministry says that toxic gas may cause cot death, it has a clear responsibility to advise parents to wrap babies' mattresses as a precaution."

Dr Sprott envisages the possibility of legal negligence actions by bereaved parents if the Ministry does not publicise mattress-wrapping for cot death prevention. "The Ministry have known about mattress-wrapping since the early 1990s. They know that there has been no reported cot death on a wrapped mattress, but they refuse to publicise mattress-wrapping advice."

"Now that the Ministry have conceded that toxic gas is a possible cause of cot death, they have come one step nearer negligence liability if they don't tell parents to wrap babies' mattresses," said Dr Sprott.

Ends

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