DETROIT, Nov. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Secure Beginnings' founder Julie Andreae and her sister, Dr. Margie Andreae, a pediatrician, championed for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Safe Sleep Task Force members to include findings from several scientific peer-reviewed studies that support air permeable crib mattresses as being safer than fiberfill (air-impermeable) mattresses for the infant who rolls.
In the recently released AAP infant safe sleep guidelines, the authors make this statement in their technical report: "Certain crib mattresses have been designed with air-permeable materials to reduce rebreathing of expired gases, in the event that an infant ends up in the prone position during sleep, and these may be preferable to those with air-impermeable materials." However, in their policy statement which is the summary of their recommendations from the technical report, they state: "There is no evidence that special crib mattresses and sleep surfacesthat claim to reduce the chance of rebreathing carbon dioxide when the infant is in the prone position reduce the risk of SIDS. However, there is no disadvantage to the use of these mattresses if they meet the safety standards as described previously." Are the authors making wishy-washy recommendations? No, they are just at the mercy of the limitations of our knowledge and scientific data on safe sleep. Studies exist showing exhaled gases (carbon dioxide) retained on air permeable mattresses is significantly less than measured on fiberfill surfaces. Therefore, if rebreathing of carbon dioxide gases is thought to be a causal factor in SIDS deaths, why don't the authors state that the mattresses with "significantly" less exhaled gases reduce SIDS risk? Because no studies exist comparing infants who sleep on an air permeable mattress versus a fiberfill mattress to see which one has fewer SIDS deaths. These gold standard studies do not exist for any of the AAP Task Force recommendations and likely never will because it is not feasible to enroll the number of infants required to get sufficient data. 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 lower the risk of SIDS, we also cannot say that air permeable mattresses do not lower the risk of SIDS.