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Medicine & Healthcare, Wiley-Blackwell

Do-it-yourself safety test could save lives

A do-it-yourself test using common household items could assist parents and caregivers in determining the adequate firmness of infant mattresses.
This is the assertion of a letter published in the October issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Ronald Somers, from the South Australian Department for Health and Ageing, believes that a do-it-yourself test could also help to discourage the risky practice of co-sleeping.
“A do-it-yourself test could demonstrate if a sleeping surface is too soft for safe infant use,” Dr Somers said.
“Overly soft infant sleep surfaces have been clearly associated with asphyxiation, but until now no definition of ‘firm enough’ has been available to parents.
“By experimentation, a test method was discovered that relied on common household items: two unopened one-litre milk cartons and a dozen computer discs held in a tight stack with kitchen cling wrap.
“This substitute test matches the results of a team in Germany who used a purpose-made instrument to formally measure the softness of infant sleeping surfaces associated with fatal suffocation accidents,” he said.