Health Issues With Memory Foam Mattresses

By Sarah DeWitt Ince

Memory foam mattresses have become very popular because they mold to your body and feel as if you are sleeping on a cloud. Memory foam mattress also carry health risks, however, just like traditional box spring mattresses. Memory foam is highly flammable so it is usually sprayed heavily with flame retardants and other chemicals. You may even notice this chemical foam smell for many years.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency considers polyurethane foam to be toxic. The foam can cause serious problems if ingested. If you are not likely to eat your memory foam mattress, a small child or baby may try to rip off a piece of foam and chew on it or swallow. Pieces of foam are chocking hazards and the toxic chemicals in the foam can quickly get into your child’s blood stream. The foam can become lodged in the colon resulting in an obstruction. An obstruction is when fecal matter is not able to come out and part of the colon can die off. Keeping your mattress encased will protect your children from this hazard.

Dr. Cara Natterson, author and graduate of Harvard University and John Hopkins Medical School, points out that people need to do their own research to determine what type of mattress to sleep on. Flame retardants are vital to prevent fires, she shows, and there is not enough data to prove that these chemicals are hazardous to your health.


Memory foam mattresses pose a suffocation hazard to infants and people with disabilities. These mattresses nestle and mold to your body and this can be a problem for someone who is not mobile and could get stuck. If a baby is placed facedown, the memory foam could mold to his face, causing him to suffocate. Never allow a baby or someone who is disabled to sleep on this type of mattress.

Respiratory Problems

Another major issue with memory foam mattresses is represented by the respiratory problems it may cause. Chemicals used in memory foam can irritate the lungs and cause breathing issues for some people. Chemicals such as polyhydroxy polyol and toluene di-isocyanate petroleum products are harsh toxins that harm the lungs. Not everyone who sleeps on a memory foam mattress will develop these problems, but if your lungs are weak or you are susceptible, you may want to try a different type of mattress.

The Mom Logic Website also says, many people complain about having sore throats, itchy eyes and bloody noses after sleeping on a memory foam mattress.

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