The reported association of cot death and sleeping prone could be due to rebreathing of expired gases. A mechanical model simulating the respiratory system of an infant, exhaling warm humidified air with an end tidal carbon dioxide of 5%, has been used to investigate this. Some commonly used bedding materials caused an accumulation of carbon dioxide of 7% to over 10% with the model lying face down. This phenomenon persisted even with the head inclined at 45 degrees, but only on very soft materials, and could be a cause of cot death in a baby unresponsive to asphyxial blood gas changes. A coir fibre mattress allowed complete dispersal of exhalate as did a rubber sheet between any mattress and the covering sheet.
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