How First Candle is Working to Reduce the Rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Other Sleep-related Infant Deaths

May 10, 2018 5:15 PM ET
Blog

For over 35 years, First Candle, has been working to educate parents, caregivers, professionals and community members on ways to reduce the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths while supporting families who have lost a baby through these tragedies as well as stillbirth and miscarriage.

In 2012, First Candle was one of only six prestigious organizations formally invited to collaborate with the NICHD to expand upon the Back to Sleep campaign to emphasize its continued focus on safe sleep environments and back sleeping as ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. The expanded campaign, called Safe to Sleep®, goes beyond Back to Sleep in providing risk reduction strategies to parents and caregivers on ways to prevent SIDS, suffocation and other sleep-related causes of death. It continues to incorporate new and evolved science-based information on key issues of safe infant sleep into easy-to-understand outreach messages, materials, and activities.

SIDS, however, remains the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of ageAdditionally, the rate of accidental suffocation and strangulation is rising at alarming rates with an increase of 184% in the last 15 years.

Every year in this country 27,000 babies die due to SIDS, accidental suffocation or stillbirth.

The rate among lower socio-economic populations is 2.5 times greater than the general population. Experts attribute this disparity to the lack of resources and education available to these parents. Past efforts around pre- and post-natal health, safe sleep and breastfeeding have been simply presented as instructions without discussion with a “one size fits all” mentality. There has been a lack of recognition on the part of health care providers and educators that cultural, economic and societal factors impede the adoption of the recommendations.

However, SIDS and accidental suffocation can happen to any baby. Too often parents and other caregivers are not provided with sufficient information on the new safe sleep guidelines adopted by the American Academy of Pediatrics which include room sharing with your baby for up to a year but never bed sharing and only placing baby on a firm mattress with nothing else in the crib including a blanket or stuff animal. “No one ever told us” is often the comment we hear after a tragedy has occurred.

Simply by educating new and expectant parents on Safe Sleep guidelines and increasing adherence experts state that the rate of these deaths could be reduced by 50%. 

First Candle has developed the Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep program that trains and fosters a collaboration between community leaders, social workers, public health providers and hospitals to educate new and expectant parents and caregivers on how and why to create a safe sleep environment for their baby. Trainees also learn how to help parents create a plan about how they can implement safe sleep, reduce exposure to second hand smoke and encourage breastfeeding that considers their beliefs, values, and living and working situations, so they feel equipped to be successful.

Unfortunately, there will still be families who face the devastation of a baby’s death. For them, we provide a grief support line, peer support volunteers and online support groups. The impact of these deaths not only effects the parents but grandparents, siblings, daycare providers and others in the community. We offer bereavement support materials to hospitals, funeral homes and online.

Your donations help us save babies’ lives and support families who have experienced a loss.  

Here’s how your dollars make a difference:

  • $50:  helps us create bereavement materials for funeral homes and hospitals
  • $100: allows us to deliver safe sleep information to child care centers
  • $500:  provides for online bereavement training of 75 peer support volunteers
  • $1,000: covers the costs for safe sleep materials and swaddles for 200 new moms.

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