For Medical Professionals
Literature and product testing support an air-permeable sleep surface that does not retain high levels of carbon dioxide as a safer option than the firm fiberfill crib mattress with a sheet to address the situation of the inexperienced infant who is placed supine and rolls prone. Deaths of infants placed on their backs and found face down on firm fiberfill crib mattresses and pads continue to occur because nothing prevents these infants from rolling.
Relevant Scientific Studies Supporting Air-Permeable Crib Mattresses With No Core or Filler:
Patrick L. Carolan, MD; William B. Wheeler, MD; James D. Ross, RRT, RCP; and James S. Kemp, MD, (2000), Potential to Prevent Carbon Dioxide Rebreathing of Commercial Products Marketed to Reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Risk, Pediatrics, 105:4 774-779.
Bar-Yishay, E., Gaides, M., Goren, A., and Szeinberg, A. (2011), Aeration properties of a new sleeping surface for infants. Pediatr. Pulmonol., 46: 193–198. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21351.
Colditz PB, Joy GJ, Dunster KR. Rebreathing potential of infant mattresses and bedcovers. J Paediatr Child Health. 2002;38(2):192–195.
William W. Fox, MD and Thomas H. Shaffer, Carbon Dioxide Rebreathing Assessment of SafeSleep Crib Mattress Sample. Intertek., wouso7330
Infants in the prone position on fiberfill surfaces and surfaces with core materials below show increased risk of rebreathing of carbon dioxide which leads to hypoxia – a condition commonly associated with SIDS. Scientific evidence shows air-permeable mattresses provide a “significant” decreased risk of rebreathing of carbon dioxide.
For medical professionals unfamiliar with air-permeable mattresses, ask yourself, “is a baby less likely to asphyxiate with their face down on a firm 6-inch-thick pillow, a 1-inch plastic encased play yard mat, a breathable surface with core material that can trap carbon dioxide, or a 1/8 inch thin open weave 3D fabric with nothing but air underneath it?”
AAP Task force on sudden infant death syndrome
“Risk-reduction strategies are based on the best-available evidence in large epidemiologic studies. These studies have been largely focused on the correlations between the sleep environment and SIDS. Our current understanding is that the cause of SIDS is multifactorial and that death results from the interaction between a vulnerable infant and a potentially asphyxiating sleep environment. Thus, claims that sleep devices, mattresses, or special sleep surfaces reduce the risk of SIDS must therefore be supported by epidemiologic evidence. At a minimum, any devices used should meet safety standards of the CPSC, the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, and ASTM International (known previously as the American Society for Testing and Materials). The AAP concurs with the US Food and Drug Administration and CPSC that manufacturers should not claim that a product or device protects against SIDS unless there is scientific evidence to that effect.”
Avoidance of Potentially Asphyxiating Sleep Environments
“Asphyxia has long been thought to be the primary cause of death in many instances of SIDS, based both on the practices (eg, supine positioning and/or lack of soft bedding) known to be protective against SIDS and on the frequent autopsy finding of pulmonary edema, which is often seen with asphyxiation. Infants resting in the prone position or lying with soft bedding may rebreathe exhaled carbon dioxide, potentially leading to hypercarbia and hypoxia. If infants’ environment does not change or infants are unable to extract themselves from the hazardous situation, they will ultimately die of asphyxia.”
Randomized Case Controlled Study vs. Retrospective Analysis
If rebreathing of carbon dioxide is thought to be a causal factor in SIDS deaths and studies show exhaled gas retained on a breathe-through mattress is significantly less than on a fiberfill surface or a surface with core material underneath it, why can’t we say that sleeping on a breathe-through mattress with no core material reduces the risk of SIDS? To make this claim would require randomized case-controlled studies comparing rates of SIDS deaths for infants who sleep on air permeable mattresses, with no fill or core material versus those on fiberfill mattresses or mattresses with core materials. These gold standard studies do not exist for any safe sleep recommendation and likely never will because they are not feasible. This is why products are not able to say they reduce the risk of SIDS. Most current safe sleep guidelines are based on limited retrospective analyses.
It’s important to point out that absence of data is not the same as negative findings. While we cannot say with scientific evidence that air permeable mattresses with no core material lower the risk of SIDS, we also cannot say with scientific evidence that air permeable mattresses with no core materials do not lower the risk of SIDS