New Zealand SIDS Death Rate Decreases

New statistics released by the New Zealand Ministry of Health show that the national rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) fell by 70% after an educational campaign in wrapping mattresses with special polyethelene covers was begun. The program began after research by a NZ scientist showed a link between SIDS and the toxic fumes emitted by mattresses.

According to the statistics, NZ Maori babies are 10 times more likely than NZ European (Pakeha) babies to die of SIDS.(2) Following the implementation of mattress-wrapping by the Pakeha community over the last eleven years (with an 85% reduction in their SIDS rate), New Zealand has the highest inter-ethnic SIDS disparity of any country in the world.

In contrast to the US and UK, where back sleeping has been adopted as a method to prevent crib death, New Zealand began to publicize mattress-wrapping in 1994, with the practice widely adopted. Since then, the rate of deaths on unwrapped mattresses has continued to increase, while no deaths have been reported for babies sleeping on wrapped mattresses. Another advantage to this solution is that babies can sleep in a variety of positions and not suffer from plagiocephaly, or flattened heads.

The results of the New Zealand mattress-wrapping program have been published in two peer-reviewed journals of environmental medicine(3) and far exceed the results of any other SIDS prevention program in the world.


  1. Source of statistics: New Zealand Ministry of Health (final statistics to 2001; provisional statistics for 2002 and 2003; progress counts for 2004 and 2005).
  2. NZ Maori SIDS rate: 2.0 deaths per 1000 live births; NZ European/Pakeha SIDS rate: 0.2 deaths per 1000 live births.
  3. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 2004;14(3): 221232. Zeitschrift fuer Umweltmedizin 2002; 44: 1822.

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October is SIDS Awareness Month

Chiropractic Research May Present Preventative Treatment Options

In case you are not aware, an organization in chiropractic: is striving to provide research that SIDS may be caused by birth trauma and may be prevented by specific, upper cervical care in infants. During this month, utilize the references on their site to inform your patients about this. This linked article does a great job in introducing the concept that chiropractic care may in fact be a means of correcting the cause of SIDS.

The I.C.P.A. has a feature article on the cause of SIDS as well.

Also, be sure to visit our Research Section on SIDS for the most complete references on this condition. Heart rate changes in response to mild mechanical irritation of the high cervical spinal cord region in infants.

Alterations in the heart rate were monitored before, during and after the application of a unilateral mechanical impulse to the high cervical spinal cord region which was administered strictly in connection with the so called manual therapy (diagnosis= KISS). The investigation is based on a survey of 695 infants between the ages of 1 and 12 months.

A notable change in the heart rate was evident in 47.2% of all examined infants (n= 695). In 40.1%of these infants, the change in heart rate was characterized by heart rate decrease of 15-83% compared to control conditions. Infants in their first 3 months of life responded more often with a severe bradycardia (50-83%decrease), older infants (7-12 months) more often with a mild bradycardia (15-49.9% decrease).

This comparison revealed a significantly increased occurrence of severe bradycardia in the younger age group compared to the group of children >3 months (significance 0.0017). In 12.1% (n= 84) of the infants, the bradycardia was accompanied by an apnea. We discuss the hypothesis that mechanical irritation of the high-cervical region serves as a trigger that may be involved in sudden infant death (SID).

High cervical stress and apnoea.

The aim of this study was to investigate
vegetative reactions in infants after mechanical irritation of the suboccipital region. The investigation is based on 199 infants who were observed while being treated with a suboccipital impulse (manual therapy). The results revealed vegetative reactions in more than half of all cases (52.8%, n = 105). The frequency of such vegetative reactions observed was at follows: flush 48.7% (n = 97), apnea 22.1% (n = 44), hyperextension 13% (n = 26), and sweating 7.5% (n = 15). It is pointed out that approximately 25% of all the infants examined reacted by apnea due to a mechanical irritation of the suboccipital region. This symptom was part of an extensive vegetative reaction. This method of inducing an apnea has not yet been described; from this it follows that there are close relations to sudden infant death.

Koch LE, Biedermann H, Saternus KS. Forensic Sci Int. 1998;12;97(1):1-9.