The Children's Sleep Laboratory of the University Clinic of Dresden detects dangerous CO2 and heat buildup in environmentally friendly baby mattresses tested

The 3rd Nationwide Expert Meeting for the Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on 1/22/2006 in Dresden. Sponsor: State Minister Helma Orosz, Meeting Leader: Prof. Dr. med. Ekkehart Paditz, President of Babyhilfe Deutschland e.V. [Baby Aid Germany], Dresden.

Dresden, January 22, 2006—On Sunday, in Dresden, during the 3rd Nationwide Expert Meeting for the Prevention of Sudden Infant Death, new research results from the Children’s Sleep Laboratory of the Technical University of Dresden will be presented. The carbon dioxide permeability and heat absorption of three different baby mattresses were examined by Graduate Engineer Petra Dietze from the Institute for Occupational Medicine of the Medical Department of the Technical University of Dresden. “The CO2 and heat buildup are regarded as substantial dangers for sleeping babies,” states the manager of this Children’s Sleep Laboratory and President of Babyhilfe Deutschland e.V., Prof. Dr. med. Ekkehart Paditz.

If a sleeping baby should wind up in the dangerous position of sleeping on its stomach, the danger exists that the baby can inhale the carbon dioxide of its own breath air. This can lead to a fatal inhibition of breathing and waking reflexes for the baby. For this reason, in the sleep laboratory, a life-size baby doll was used to examine – under strictly controlled conditions with precision measuring devices – whether CO2 is passively diffused by various baby mattresses.

The alarming result: A cotton-coconut baby mattress marked with the economy test seal “Very Good” led to CO2 and heat buildup under laboratory conditions: Unlike what would be expected from the product description and the test seal, only 20% of the CO2 breathed onto the mattress could be detected again under the mattress. This baby mattress consists of a vulcanized latex core with coconut fibers, cotton encasement, and a rough cotton covering, which substantially hinder air and heat circulation in this overall composition. Through a common commercial foam rubber mattress for babies, in fact, 46% of the exhaled CO2 is diffused, more than twice as much as in the environmentally friendly mattress. The best result in the test was achieved by a new type of baby mattress with a honeycomb structure made of polyurethane, which can be obtained in Germany as a US import. This mattress allowed 92% of the exhaled CO2 to pass through.

“We therefore seriously urge parents, before they purchase a baby mattress, to read the fine print and, if appropriate, to ask specific questions,” advised Graduate Engineer Petra Dietze. “Baby mattresses and the bed underlayment should allow air to pass sufficiently and not contribute to the heat and CO2 buildup,” adds Prof. Paditz from the Dresden University Children’s Clinic. Therefore, baby mattresses which have a pore, foam or honeycomb structure and can be squeezed only to a limited extent are advantageous. The bottom of the crib should also make air circulation possible. This is also the advice, by the way, of allergists, in order to avoid promoting the growth of household dust mites. Since 2003, furs have been required to bear the label “not suitable as underlayment for sleeping babies,” because they substantially interfere with a heat and CO2 exchange, as the environmentally friendly mattresses do.

Babyhilfe Deutschland e.V. was founded on 4/22/2004 with the motto “Save a Baby Everyday.” What this means is to use viable suggestions to lower the frequency of the feared sudden infant death step by step in Germany as well to or under the lowest level worldwide of the Netherlands of only 1.1 cases per 10,000 live-births. In Germany, in the year 2004, at least four times more babies died suddenly and unexpectedly (323 cases in 705,627 live-births, i.e., 4.6 sudden death cases per 10,000 live-births). In 2003, there were still 375 cases.

The agenda of the meeting and numerous further suggestions for parents seeking advice can be obtained at or over the helpdesk telephone number 0180.50 99 555 (12 Ct./Min.).

children's sleep laboratory Photo: Sven Döring, VISUM Hamburg. Baby doll lying on its stomach on a honeycomb mattress (test conditions of the study)
children's sleep laboratory Photo: Sven Döring, VISUM Hamburg. Structure of the crib mattress investigated, with polyurethane honeycomb (without fabric cover; measurements were made with various textile coverings,which did not substantially affect the results).
children's sleep laboratory Photo: Sven Döring, VISUM Hamburg. Environmentally friendly mattress with vulcanised latex-coconut fiber core, loose cotton and rough cotton cover.
children's sleep laboratory Photo: Sven Döring, VISUM Hamburg. Surface of a standard commercial foam mattress for cribs.
children's sleep laboratory Photo: Sven Döring, VISUM Hamburg. Measuring setup: The respiration of babies with a body weight of 4, 6 and 8 kg was simulated using a respirator; in order to reproduce the characteristics of an infant’s breathing movements as closely as possible, an additional device was used to imitate the so-called Compliance and Resistance of both pulmonary lobes.
children's sleep laboratory Photo: Sven Döring, VISUM Hamburg. Precision sensors to measure the CO2 concentration, the humidity, the speed of flow and the air temperature above and below the crib mattresses.

(Photographs of the experiment set-up described in the Children’s Sleep Laboratory as well as special photos on the structure of the mattresses tested can be obtained from (search word: mattress) or directly from Prof. Paditz.)

Qualified Prof. Dr. med. Ekkehart Paditz
President, Babyhilfe Deutschland e.V.
Clinic and Polyclinic for Children and Youth Medicine
of the Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus
of the Technical University of Dresden

Fetscherstr. 74
D-01307 Dresden
Tel. 0351. 458 3160
Fax 0351. 458 5772

Thomas Pabst, Thomas Pabst Kommunikationsberatung Heidelberg, Tel. 0172.63 16 947