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Breathable Mattress Protector Or Plastic Sheet For Kids, Any Danger?

scarlettsmum

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Oct 5, 2015
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523
is there any truth in this?

Am considering using a shower curtain as a mattress protector for a 4 year old to save money. A comment I received on this subject on a mother and kids group:

Waterproof mattress liners are breathable. Shower curtains aren't made of breathable material and neither is vinyl. And our skin needs air to circulate around our entire body at night in order to ensure good sleeping properties.

As for babies and children, they often have higher head and foot boards, beds standing against the wall with one side. So you only have one open side where the air can kind of circulate - and the mattress. Now given that CO2 (which we exhale) is heavier than O2 (oxygen), it lingers above the mattress around the child. If said mattress doesn't let air pass because you "seal" it, the CO2 accumulates (which they say is the main reason for the sudden infant death syndrome - babies laying in their own CO2 and not having enough air exchange > oxygen in their sleeping space).

Now even if it won't kill your son (naturally, I think he's sleeping in a regular bed), oxygen and air flow during sleep is very important. If not least because of cognitive development.

Might sound very "index-finger-raised", not meant to be. I'd just not want to take any risks on this. We all know how we sleep better when a window is open or even in nature. We sleep deeper. And that's where the magic happens in our brains. Deep sleep.

My ex-husband has sleep apnea and my older son has pretty bad allergies against almost anything. So I spent quite some time researching about sleep environments. It's scary how little things can have such a huge impact.
 

tara

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Mar 29, 2014
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Now given that CO2 (which we exhale) is heavier than O2 (oxygen), it lingers above the mattress around the child. If said mattress doesn't let air pass because you "seal" it, the CO2 accumulates (which they say is the main reason for the sudden infant death syndrome - babies laying in their own CO2 and not having enough air exchange > oxygen in their sleeping space).

My non-expert take.
From the PoV of asphyxiation, there would be a problem if there was an air-tight seal around the mouth. It is true that CO2 is heavier than O2 and normal air. But what is exhaled is mixed with the surrounding gasses - it does not separate out and sink to make a suffocating layer in the bed.
Maybe a problem for the skin if it was against an airtight film for extended time, but I imagine you'd have a cotton sheet or similar between.
There may be issues with gases emanating from some kinds of plastic, but that's a different issue, and I don't know the ins and outs of that.

Sleeping with a window open can help introduce cleaner air, which can be good, but the CO2 content won't be very different - I don't think that's the key difference unless you are living in a really airtight house (not common where I am).

I think Rakhimov over at normalbreathing referred to old Russian traditions of putting a cloth over babies bed with a limited air hole to help retain CO2 and protect them from hyperventilation problems. He also referred to other cultures having traditions that restricted excessive air exchange for babies, including swaddling.
 

robknob

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Feb 1, 2016
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Sealing the toxic flame retardants in the matress would be a benefit offered by a plastic or vinyl covering, although such a covering would itself be estrogenic to a certain extent, never heard that about the co2 but i think if that were a problem people in sleeping bags and tents would be affected. I would remember that co2 is still a gas, and will float around freely given the slightest agitation(breathing, moving, hvac). I think it is extremely unlikely for it to accumulate locally on a raised surface.
 

tara

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Mar 29, 2014
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Sealing the toxic flame retardants in the matress would be a benefit offered by a plastic or vinyl covering ...
Good point.

I would remember that co2 is still a gas, and will float around freely given the slightest agitation(breathing, moving, hvac). I think it is extremely unlikely for it to accumulate locally on a raised surface.
Yes. The natural behaviour of gases is to mix and disperse if they are free to do so.
If the CO2 settled out of the air onto the surface of the planet, and left the lighter oxygen to float above, we would all be in trouble (or actually, evolution would have had to take completely different paths).
 

scarlettsmum

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Oct 5, 2015
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523
@tara and @doorknobrob thanks very much for your input. I too didn't think there was much reasoning in this argument. I am aware that co sleeping with babies is recommended because apparently if the baby is facing mother's face he is stimulated to breathe by his mother's out breath. So, i think it is a needless scaremongering. I like the idea of sealing the the toxic flames retardants, so now I also have a reason. :)
 

Peat Tong

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Jul 22, 2016
Messages
78
We used the Babesafe mattress cover.

quote from a seller's website:

"The Story behind Mattress Wrapping
In 1989 Mr. Barry A. Richardson, a British scientist, proposed the theory that SIDS/Crib Death was caused by toxic gases generated from elements commonly present in babies' mattresses. Dr. T. J. Sprott, a New Zealand scientist, had suspected the same since the mid-1980s. Dr. Sprott felt that SIDS babies were not dying from a medical condition, but from nerve gas being generated in the baby's sleeping environment.

As a result of their research, Mr. Richardson and Dr. Sprott found that most baby mattresses and many bedding items contain small amounts of the elements phosphorus, arsenic and/or antimony, which are incorporated for purposes such as plastic softener, fire retardant or as part of the manufacturing process. In addition, a normally harmless household fungus (Scopulariopsis brevicaulis) often grows in mattresses. Separately, the presence of the elements phosphorus, arsenic or antimony in mattresses and bedding does not pose danger. But when heat and moisture in the baby's crib results in fungal growth, the fungus interacts with these elements, causing the generation of extremely poisonous gases. If even a small dose of these gases is ingested by a baby, the baby's breathing and heart functions stop, resulting in SIDS/Crib Death."
 
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