SIDS is an acronym for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is death with an unknown cause. Any death that has an evident cause is NOT SIDS.
Little has been known of this tragic malady except for statistics:
- SIDS is more common in babies from lower socio-economic classes.
- A second-born child is twice as likely to die from it as a first-born.
- A third-born child is even more likely to die from SIDS.
- More cases occur in the winter months.
- The incidence of SIDS deaths is higher in Day Care Centers.
- SIDS usually strikes infants between the ages of 1 month to 1 year.
- 73% of babies who died from SIDS were found sleeping on their stomachs.
- breastfed babies have a lower incidence of SIDS.
- cosleeping cultures have a lower incidence of SIDS.
Dr Sprott, a well lettered forensic chemist, was intrigued with the fact that SIDS babies were so often found face down. He suspected the bedding. Clever boy. Putting his chemistry to good use, he discovered some nasty stuff in the mattresses and had a whole nation – New Zealand – get on board. Not an easy feat was this as NZ had the highest SIDS rate in the world, by quite a margin. SIDS deaths are calculated in the thousands, and countries with a high percentage rate, such as Australia, are generally about a 1 in 1000 statistic. NZ had a 2.2 in 1000 stat, which doesn’t seem like much, but is actually double the highest closest rate.
Parents covered their mattresses with a special plastic (discussed shortly) for about 4 years. At least 175 000 babies slept on wrapped mattresses. Few can escape getting buttlerflies when they learn that the result was 100% successful. Not one baby died on a correctly wrapped mattress during the years of the experiment, yet at the same time in NZ, 860 babies died on unwrapped mattresses. Two babies died on wrapped mattresses, but it was found that different plastic was used on these mattresses.
You will find this nation wide trial referenced by scholars and scientists in professional journals and in other trials as they tried to reproduce the conditions in a lab setting. However, you will not find this information being accepted by the SIDS organisation, nor the various infant health associations. Odd, no? Richardson (the first to discover the mattress connection) and Sprott took issue with the clinical trials for different reasons, such as the use of a bacteria instead of a fungus. One of the issues is published here. It is written about on the public trial files, but as you will see, it has been removed. You can read that here however: SIDS and the Toxic Gas Theory Revisited. Note one of the authors is a senior advisor at the Ministry for Health in New Zealand, yet the disclaimer at the end of the report reads:
The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the authors, and should not be taken to reflect the views of the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health shall not be held responsible or liable in respect of any action or omission performed in reliance on the views expressed in this article.
The babies are poisoned.
What’s going on?
Arsine is a nerve gas. Breathing this gas will cause rapid death at levels much lower than needed with the more well known lethal gas, carbon monoxide. O.S.H.A set the level of toxic exposure at above 50 parts per million (ppm) for carbon monoxide (based on an 8 hour exposure), where the level for arsine is a tiny 0.05ppm, which is 1000 times less. The levels required to kill an infant are significantly lower.
Arsine kills. It kills fast, and it kills babies faster. That is not debatable. What is debatable is: how would a baby become exposed to arsine gas?
The ‘Wallpaper and paste’ poisonings of the 19th century in Europe killed thousands of babies and were found to be caused from arsenic used as a fungicide in wallpaper and carpet. The fungicide was fairly hopeless because ironically, the arsenic was metabolized by a fungus and arsine gas released.* During that episode many babies died from simply crawling on the floor because arsine gas is also heavy and tends downwards.
Arsenic becomes arsine gas in the presence of an acid. (Forensics by Tabitha Yeats)
Arsine is also a product of fungal metabolism in the presence of arsenic. Environmental biochemistry of arsenic.
These things are required to produce arsine gas:
arsenic and at least one of the following
- acid (potentially with zinc), or
The mind boggles, but arsenic is still used today in many commercial products. It is used along with agents such as phosphorous and antimony as a fire retardant in furniture, bedding and other material goods, even toys and clothing. Phosphorous and antimony degrade to phosphine and stibine, respectively – both toxic nerve gasses like arsine. Fumigation also uses such chemicals to prevent microorganism growth. Imported goods are definitely subject to this, as they must be fumigated to enter the country – at least in Australia this is true. I bought an imported cloth lounge in 2007 that was so toxic the whole house was filled with a chemical smell and I had to send it back and this is where I first learned of the aggressive fumigation laws. We bought one made in our country instead, although no doubt that was also treated, if less aggressively.
I am not sure the extent to which we are all being gassed daily by low levels of arsine and other toxic gasses. I am convinced we are, however, because of these goods in our homes, shops, other homes we visit, hotels and so on. Fungi and molds are everywhere, and the human body itself is a source of weak acid. Sleeping or sitting on a surface that was once treated with arsenic (the substance can not be effectively washed out) will mix it with body acids and this is my personal hypothesis, but it may cause a trace production of arsine without the need of the presence of fungi. Fungal growth in such surfaces will produce a significant amount of arsine.
Fungus will grow most happily where there is humidity and warmth, both of which are created by the human body – which is itself a source of a thousand billion fungal cells. Beds have been tested and apparently if you traced around the fungal growth on the surface of a mattress, it would be in the shape of a sleeping body. They’re right there, under you where you sleep and always have been.
Fungi are naturally everywhere, we live with them and our bathrooms remind us now and again just how ready they are to proliferate if given the right conditions. Arsenic is also now everywhere, and has been since the latter half of the 20th century more than any other time in history. The two together create arsine, the nerve gas, toxic to humans at tiny amounts, fatal to infants at even smaller amounts.
I really don’t think it is such a mystery, it makes complete biological and chemical sense. What surprises me is how rare infant death actually is, given the conditions necessary. Which brings us to another problem we will deal with later, and that is the untold numbers of babies that survive nerve gas exposure. Some movement in the bedding if not too tightly wrapped, sleeping on their back therefore decreased exposure, crying if awake enough to call for help, mature enough to move about, sufficient ventilation, smaller amounts of gas… there are many reasons babies survive this gas. Just as we all do, daily, even though we are exposed to toxic products constantly. However, a baby is still developing, and although they may survive this exposure, there can be damage done. Another worthwhile investigation would be looking at how a fetus is affected by chronic low level nerve gas exposure.
I cannot help but wonder if there may be a connection to some other health mysteries that may one day be lain at the foot of gaseous poisoning. The chronic lasting effects of arsine exposure, for instance, resembles autism in many interesting ways, such as long lasting irritability and neurological damage.
I used to find the evidence that links vaccinations to deaths and autism compelling, as the timing of the onset cannot be ignored. Now I see another option that, I hate to admit, renders vaccination blameless. This is how it biologically may play out:
Overheating the baby has been linked to SIDS, however science has been unsure how it links. The recommendations for keeping the room cool and not to over-wrap the baby have stemmed from this observation. Fungi thrive in warmth, and it has also been proven that fungal growth is higher on the mattresses of the overheated. Enter vaccination and the most common symptom is fever. Now we have a very hot, over 100 degree, damp from sweat environment underneath the baby and the situation becomes volatile. This explains the timing of post-vaccination SIDS deaths logically as far as I’m concerned. It also explains any other kind of neurological damage sustained in the vulnerable post-vaccination weeks.
Which means, the blame is not with the vaccination. It is with the bedding manufacturer for putting toxic chemicals into the mattresses as flame retardants, fumigation or as part of the structure itself in the form of PVC. It will be interesting to see exactly who takes the fall when the time comes for a fall guy.
You can learn more about the acute poisoning here.
Let’s run through it again so it’s clear:
1. arsenic turns to arsine gas in the presence of an acid medium or fungal metabolism.
2. arsenic is present in most mattresses in the Western culture.
=> “Most mattress materials contain phosphorus or antimony compounds as fire retardant additives.”
source: Sudden infant death syndrome: a possible primary cause. J Forensic Sci Soc. 1994 Jul-Sep;34(3):199-204.
3. Fungi are present in most mattresses especially the area underneath where a body lay.
4. The amount of arsine required to deliver a measurable toxic blow are set at levels of 0.05parts per million. A tiny amount is required of arsine (not to mention the other gasses) to, if nothing else, make an infant very sick.
Add those four things together, and you don’t need a bunch of letters after your name to figure it out. I have no idea why this is being denied, the evidence and statistics speak for themselves and there is almost a complete lack of evidence to refute this, especially as all attempts I have found so far have been clinical settings, some using bacteria not fungi, and some haven’t even tried to mimic the cot sleeping atmosphere at all. The best way, and the way most likely to save lives more quickly, is to implement the same trial in other countries, and then look at the statistics. If they are still good, then we’ve just saved countless lives with the trial itself and for all eternity. If it isn’t good, then so what? We won’t have lost anything trying, except some money on plastic sheeting which is probably a good idea anyway cos babies do tend to wet the bed for years. I’m a parent, I know this.
Dr Sprott specifies 5mm thick polyethylene – which is very thick plastic that does not contain the chemicals phosporous, antimony or arsenic that are degraded into the nerve gasses phosphine, stibine and arsine respectively. This is used to wrap the mattress, leaving space on the underside for the mattress to offgas. Do not let your baby crawl beneath the crib/cot.
Buy a new mattress for each baby. SIDS babies are found significantly more often on second hand mattresses – the more used, the more toxic fumes. New mattresses take time to grow the fungi and start generating the gasses. Newborns are rarely victims of SIDS as they are usually on new mattresses.
If a mattress cannot be wrapped today, Dr Sprott advises to remove the mattress and use thick blanketing (that has hopefully not been fumigated or treated with flame retardants) on the cot base. Sleep the baby on their back. Cover them in cotton or wool. Keep the cot in your room (statistically higher incidence of SIDS in babies sleeping alone in their own room).
In an ideal world, we could all afford organic cotton cot mattresses with a coconut core and a waterproof eucalyptus antimicrobial cover. Or a natural latex mattress with organic cotton cover. We would also be able to afford organic cotton sheets and organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and wool blankets. Organic fibers, by their very definition, have not been treated with chemicals, even when they are grown. Pesticides used on plants cannot always be removed. Luckily, for those who cannot go that extra mile just yet, there are covers, so at least no one in your family will get sick (or die) from nerve gas exposure!
Do not smoke. Antimony and many poisonous gasses are exhaled and excreted from a smoker, and not just directly after a cigarette. This is mostly true of chemically treated “ready rolled” cigarettes, which have substances such as ammonia added for flavour. This is too much for a tiny new body, and may account for the co-sleeping SIDS statistics in the under four month old bracket.
If we look at our statistics list at the top of this page again, it all makes sense knowing what we know now:
What about those last two on the list? The breastfed baby and the co-sleeping baby are statistically more protected. It isn’t all about the milk. The milk is amazing stuff and lends untold amounts of support to the new life, but it is the fact that a breastfed baby is much more likely to be co-sleeping, at least part-time, than a bottle fed baby.
Dr Sprott advises against co-sleeping, and this is where he and logic, and therefore he and I, part ways. With all due respect, Dr Sprott should stick to what he knows, forensic chemistry, and leave human biology, anthropology and history well alone. Pass him his well earned Nobel prize and leave babies where they belong – with their mothers.
Myth Busting Cosleeping and SIDS
To the point: suffocation is not SIDS. It is tedious and misleading when everyone from the statisticians, through the nosy neighbours and up to the Dr Sprott’s heaping suffocation deaths in with SIDS statistics. When they study co-sleeping and SIDS, they really struggle to fault co-sleeping, and here’s why…
The research done by Dr McKenna of The University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory has shown the protective benefits of cosleeping on many levels. The mother, particularly the breastfeeding mother, is highly attuned to her baby and her baby’s movements during sleep*. Often she is not even aware of how attuned she is. This is millennia in the making, and nature does not make mistakes. Mothers are meant to be with their babies, and nature did not make provisions for her baby to sleep somewhere other than with the mother.
*Sleep. 1996 Nov;19(9):677-84.// Mosko et al
Can you imagine life in a natural setting, such as in the Amazon?
Can you also imagine an Amazon mother putting her baby under a different tree to sleep, because the tree she is sleeping under is unsafe for her baby simply because the mother is there? No, I didn’t think you could. I certainly can’t imagine that ridiculousness. The very fact that the mother is there makes it the safest place for the baby to be, not the least safe.
How on Earth did our culture convince us, as mothers, that we are the least safe place for our babies to be during sleep? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard about parenting.
Why babies should never sleep alone – McKenna
There is no evidence that bed sharing is hazardous for infants of parents who do not smoke. – BMJ 1999;319:1457-1462
Because environmental or caretaking factors have been shown to exert powerful effects on susceptibility to SIDS, manipulations that facilitate arousability might be protective against SIDS… The most important findings revealed by repeated measures analyses of variance were a significant reduction in stage 3/4 sleep and an inverse increase in stage 1/2 sleep on the bedsharing night compared to the solitary night, irrespective of routine sleeping arrangement. Infant sleep architecture during bedsharing and possible implications for SIDS.
The finding of Blair et al that infants who sleep in a separate room are at a significantly increased risk of the sudden infant death syndrome is of critical importance but was not adequately emphasised.
Edwards showed that exposure to chemicals in air fresheners may have adverse effects on babies.1-4 Perfumes, deodorants, and other products may contain similar chemicals, so they might also have negative impacts, especially in infants who share a bed and are snuggled up close to their mother throughout the night.
The risk associated with being found in the parental bed was not significant for older infants (>14 weeks) or for infants of parents who did not smoke and became non-significant after adjustment for recent maternal alcohol consumption (>2 units), use of duvets (>4 togs), parental tiredness (infant slept 4 hours for longest sleep in previous 24 hours), and overcrowded housing conditions (>2 people per room of the house).
SIDS was twice as frequent at weekends (found dead Saturday – Monday mornings) compared to weekdays (p<0.02), and significantly more common compared to reference deaths (p<0.002)…. While sharing a place of sleep per se may not increase the risk of death, our findings may be linked to factors such as habitual smoking, consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs as reported in case-control studies.
An extra-ordinary range of dyadic behaviours can be observed: the infant and mother start to synchronise their sleep states; move towards each other or away from each other as dictated by temperature (and babies demonstrably do not overheat in this situation); breast feeding can take place without either party being technically awake; and both parties touch each other, particularly the mother touching the baby.
It is clear from the work so far that we are only just beginning to unravel the complexities of bed-sharing behaviour, and that without such an understanding, simplistic descriptions such as ‘‘safe’’ or ‘‘hazardous’’ are meaningless. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2004;89:1082-1083
Infant sleep, breathing, arousal and thermoregulation all evolved in the context of continuous parental contact and no evidence has been produced on the benefits of solitary sleeping arrangements. Ethnicity and the sudden infant death syndrome: important clues from anthropology.
Now we are gathering the compelling evidence that SIDS is actually death by poisoning, how are they going to explain all those recommendations to sleep apart from our babies? How can they make up for what our babies went through, what WE went through, when we stuck our babies all alone in a separate room while we wrenched ourselves away, every instinct on fire screaming this is wrong wrong wrong and shut the door on them?
Yet it isn’t over yet. The very scientist that discovered the cause of SIDS to be poisoning, Dr Sprott, is still against co-sleeping, even in a wrapped bed. If you ask how that makes any sense, you are in touch with all your faculties. Apparently, it is “still too high a risk”, according to him. So much so, he will not sell adult sized mattress covers to protect co-sleeping babies from the toxic mattress fumes. He also will not advise a co-sleeping parent and he will not do a polyethylene test for a co-sleeping parent, which he does for free for all those who isolate their babies. The gasses are in adult beds too, and account for co-sleeping SIDS rates, but apparently co-sleepers are such sinners that our children’s lives are more worth risking. Ha, I’d like to see how far he gets with that once his research hits the pavement seeing as how two-thirds of the world co-sleep, at a conservative estimate.
Let’s engage our logic together again, as it is so much more fruitful when we think for ourselves -
Most of the world co-sleep. It is estimated that all un-contacted tribes spread in pockets globally co-sleep because all those that have been contacted so far do. Most cultures untouched by western influence co-sleep. Many strong cultures (meaning, touched by the West but holding strong on their own culture), even though touched by the West still co-sleep in the majority; an example of this type of culture is Japan and a large percentage of Asia. In China, home to some 1.3 billion people (20% of the world) at least 50% co-sleep. How many in the West are actually co-sleeping anyway?
77% of mothers in Oregon bedshare at least sometimes. 35% bedshare usually or always.1
41% of African American babies in St. Louis bedshare.2
13% of U.S. infants bedshare usually or always, 20% share half the time or more, and
almost 50% were sharing sometime during the two weeks before the survey.
This study admits to under represent the poor, leading to an underestimation of bedsharing percentages.3
75% of Alaskan infants cosleep sometimes or always. 35% do so always.4
50% of Chicago infants were bedsharing on a reference night.5
46% of infants in England are bed-sharing for at least some time during the night. 30% were found bed-sharing on any given night.6
20% of infants in Scotland were sleep sharing during a reference sleep. The number co-sleeping at least part-time would be greater.7
12% are regularly bedsharing in Canterbury, New Zealand.8
48% in Sweden.9
25% of infants studied in Australasia, Europe, and North America.10
1. M. Lahr et al., “Bedsharing and maternal smoking in a population-based survey of new mothers,” Pediatrics (U.S.) 116, no. 4 (Oct 2005): e530-42.
2. B. Unger et al., “Racial and modifiable risk factors among infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly,” Pediatrics (U.S.) 111, no. 2 (Feb 2003): 127-131.
3. M. Willinger et al., “Trends in Infant Bed Sharing in the United States, 1993-2000. The National Infant Sleep Position Study,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (U.S.) 157, no. 1 (Jan 2003): 43-49.
4. K. Perham-Hester, “Co-sleeping in Alaska: Data from PRAMS. Executive Session of the Maternal-Infant Mortality Review Committee,” Anchorage, AK; December 1999.
5. F. Hauck et al., “Sleep Environment and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in an Urban Population: The Chicago Infant Mortality Study” Pediatrics (U.S.) 111, no. 5, part 2 (May 2003): 1207-14.
6. P. Blair and H. Ball, “The Prevalence and Characteristics Associated with Parent-Infant Bed-Sharing in England,” Archives of Disease in Childhood (England) 89, no. 12 (Dec2004): 1106-10.
7. D. Tappin et al., “Bedsharing, Roomsharing, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in Scotland: A Case-Control Study,“ Journal of Pediatrics (Scotland) 147, no. 1 (Jul 2005): 32-7.
8. R. Ford et al., “Changes to infant sleep practices in Canterbury,” New Zealand Medical Journal (New Zealand) 113, no. 1102 (Jan 28, 2000): 8-10.
9. Nelson EA et al. International Child Care Prac…[PMID: 11245994].
10. R. Scragg and E. Mitchell, “Side sleeping position and bed sharing in the sudden infant death syndrome,” Annals of Medicine (New Zealand) 30, no. 4 (Aug 1998): 345-9.
There are many co-sleepers, is the point, in case you missed it. Even in our culture in which isolation during infant sleep is the dominant arrangement.
Given that so many people world wide are co-sleeping, then the SIDS statistics should reflect at least the same percentage of deaths to co-sleeping.
For instance, in the United States, 2523 babies died of SIDS in the year 2000. It is estimated in one study that 13% of US parents co-sleep, however you can see from the stats above that there are no doubt many more than that. Therefore, if co-sleeping is at least as big a risk as isolated sleeping, then at least 13% of the SIDS rate should be co-sleeping deaths. Right?
Wrong! The amount of babies who died of SIDS in an adult bed is 13.
That is 0.5%, half a percent, not even one percent of the statistics!
As if that isn’t ripe enough, many of those babies died alone on an adult bed. It cannot be considered a co-sleeping death if there is no actual co-sleeping occuring, now can it?
2510 babies died from SIDS in a crib.
Only 13 died from SIDS in an adult bed.
Theoretically at least 13%, or 327 babies should have died in adult beds but they didn’t. Co-sleeping is obviously saving lives. Gorillas already know that, without all the hocus pocus of statistics. So do dogs. Cats. Dolphins. Meerkats. Mammals… mammals co-sleep. Humans are mammals. Deal with it.
According to mainstream information, co-sleeping has not been defined as safe or unsafe. Who are they kidding? It is clearly and undeniably safe, and not just safe, but safer than a crib. Even a crib in the same room doesn’t offer the same protection as mama’s arms. And really, is that so surprising?
This graph compares the SIDS rates between cultures according to their co-sleeping numbers.
Graph courtesy of BabyReference.com
You can see that the more co-sleeping in a country, the less the rate of SIDS.
If you wrap the adult mattress, the SIDS rate would be all but moot, just the same as the wrapped cot mattress.
There is one point that has yet to be defined. Co-sleeping smokers have a higher risk of SIDS in their babies. No satisfactory research has been done on this aspect, and should be done. The off-gassing of the parent themselves would be a good place to start such research. This may skew the positive results of a wrapped mattress trial if co-sleepers continue to smoke as they are exhaling poisons all night right into the face of their babies, and their bodies are also a toxin supply. It would be very disappointing if it turned out that the only deaths from SIDS were due to co-sleeping after a mattress wrapping trial across Australia or America… because of smoking parents.
Overlying and suffocation during co-sleeping are not related to SIDS and therefore are not discussed on this page. There are many babies who die in cribs, while co-sleeping, in the arms of a parent, in a car, in a pool, all kinds of places and they are not defined as SIDS because they have a cause.
A baby, like an adult, deserves to be comfortable while sleeping. They like to change positions. When very tiny, they tend to prefer sleeping on their tummies. We force them to sleep on their backs ALL NIGHT, some people even buying a wedge device to stop them changing position. Try it yourself one night… sleeping in one position all night is enough to send most people bonkers. If we make a safe sleeping area and keep our babies with us, so we can keep the eye on them nature intended us to, then baby can sleep how she wants to.
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