Antimony, SIDS, autism and mattress covers

SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the primary cause of death among infants and children under age one — in the United States. In New Zealand, however, SIDS rates have dramatically declined since 1994 when a specially designed mattress cover was developed to help protect infants in their cribs from toxic fumes released from the mattress due to chemical additives or molds. Antimony is one of the chemicals that may be a common risk to infants. Chemicals added to reduce risk of the mattress catching fire may be gradually released and absorbed through the infant’s skin or be breathed by the baby.

In the United States a “Back to Sleep” educational campaign was developed to try to reduce the rate of SIDS deaths because the problem was associated with infants sleeping on their stomachs. That position would place their nose and mouth more directly into the mattress where the toxic chemicals tend to be most prevalent. The “Back to Sleep” campaign and the tendency to leave infants sitting in their infant seats for long periods of time may also have led to more flat-headed babies. Specially shaped neck and head support pillows were developed and sold to worried parents to then prevent the flat-headed problem.

Antimony is a heavy metal which may also be associated with autism risk. Wrapping a mattress in a protective cover is a non-toxic, completely safe and low cost investment that might help protect against SIDS risk and possibly reduce the long term build up of toxins that might increase autism risk. However the United States health guidelines have not endorsed/accepted/supported the simple solution that has been saving the lives of infants in New Zealand since 1994. Research there has proven statistical significance of the method.

The U.S. may be dragging it’s collective heals because of fear of liability or fear of agreeing that fire retardant chemicals that were supposed to save lives may be costing lives — speculation doesn’t save many lives but wrapping an infant mattress in a specially designed cover might. Replacing infant mattresses between infants might also help. The mold risk may be an increased problem for second or third children — who tend to have an increased risk to die from unknown causes while asleep (SIDS) compared to the firstborn infant.

Tweets on the topic from my social media Twitter account; #1, 2 and 3 are to the same link, “Has the Cause of Crib Death, SIDS, been Found?; and #5 and 7 are to a link that sells the specially designed BabeSafe brand mattress covers; the link to which I found on #4, prevent-SIDS.org website’s article “BabeSafe Mattress Wrapping Success”; and #6 is to an Autism website that mentions antimony and fire retardants as a possible risk but which does not mention the New Zealand SIDS research or specially designed mattress covers; #7 is a Tweet where I combined a different autism prevention article with the BabeSafe mattress cover link (#5):

  1. Wrapping crib mattresses to reduce toxic off-gassing has reduced SIDS rate in New Zealand. .
  2. “no babies have died sleeping on a properly wrapped mattress.” 2,100 babies die/yr in U.S. via .
  3. Has The Cause of Crib Death (SIDS) Been Found? /statistics~1 billion x level generally required/ via
  4. BabeSafe Mattress Wrapping Success
  5. “Babe-safe mattress covers,” made to the New Zealand design to safely reduce off-gassing toxins,
  6. Aluminum, Antimony, Autism and Answers
  7. Minimizing Risks | Autism Research Institute /babesafe covers decrse antimony   .

Infants, at least some of them, some of the time, like to sleep on their stomachs. Do they have to move to New Zealand in order to have that freedom? Or in a free country couldn’t parents have the right to buy their infant a specially designed mattress cover that might help protect them from volatile chemicals and molds that might be off-gassing from the mattress and increasing risk of SIDS and autism?

Freedom was a core principle for our nation’s Founding Fathers. They might have voted for the right to wrap mattresses rather than enforcing an educational message designed to reduce health risks but may have led to increased risks of flat-headed-ness. Flat-headed babies sometimes have their skull shape round out again without intervention beyond encouraging the parent to hold their baby more and to use the specially designed neck and head supports and to make sure baby has ‘tummy time’ while awake, but sometimes the infants have to wear specially designed football like helmets for weeks or months in order to encourage the skull to grow into a more typical shape.

Encouraging baby in “Tummy time” can then sometimes become a challenge if the infant gets so used to the back position that they lose muscle strength and interest in spending time on their tummies. The position is important for increasing neck, back and arm strength necessary for learning how to roll over and press up to a hands and knee position for learning how to crawl. And learning how to crawl has been associated with improved skills in coordination between the right and left halves of the body and with more advanced skills later in life such as reading and writing. The “Back to Sleep” education campaign was started in the U.S. in 1994. [http://www.medcentral.org/main/Whatssoimportantaboutcrawling.aspx ] The mattress cover campaign that started around the same time in New Zealand had a much more significant reduction in infants dieing from SIDS and probably didn’t lead to as many babies developing flattened heads.

We don’t know what we don’t know until we learn it the hard way or listen to other people who have also experienced the problem and developed sensible solutions.

Guessing, but an educated guess — if the infant has any asthma or other respiratory issues the BabeSafe Mattress Covers might also help their health. Mold and volatile chemicals can add to asthma and breathing difficulties.

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Antimony, SIDS, autism and mattress covers by

By Jenny

I am a public health nutrition counselor with fifteen years experience in the field of prenatal and early child health and lactation education (breast feeding support). Autoimmune disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and genetic defects that can cause nutrient deficiencies are also research interests.