First Candle (National Office)
Started in the early 1960s as the National SIDS Foundation, the organization’s primary focus was to support families who had experienced the death of a baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Through the foundation, grassroots advocacy efforts were successful at securing the first national funding available specifically for SIDS research.
WHERE YOUR SUPPORT GOES
In 1987, forged through the merger of several national and regional SIDS groups from across the country, the SIDS Alliance was created as an umbrella organization to provide a single, focused entity dedicated to the elimination of SIDS. As a key partner in the national Back to Sleep campaign, the organization has been credited with helping to save more than 25,000 babies’ lives during the past decade alone, amounting to a drop of nearly 60 percent in the U.S. SIDS rate.
In 2002, the SIDS Alliance Board of Directors voted to expand the organization’s mission to include stillbirth and other sudden, unexpected infant deaths (SUID). The organization has committed its resources – both human and financial – in hopes of having a similar impact on stillbirth as it has had on SIDS, in the belief that every baby should live. Fittingly, the organization also voted to change its name to First Candle, Helping Babies Survive & Thrive, to reflect its broader mission and hope for the future.
In early 2007, First Candle’s efforts were rewarded with an $11 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation earmarked for a ground-breaking program to help prevent infant deaths that occur as a result of unsafe sleep practices. The Bedtime Basics for Babiescampaign combined a crib distribution program with a wide-spread public and professional education component and was spread over a 7-year period.
2010 brought the research breakthrough we had long been waiting for. Dr. Hannah Kinney, SIDS researcher for more than two decades, discovered that SIDS was not the mystery we once thought. It has now been linked to low levels of serotonin and serotonin receptor cells in the brain stem of babies who die of SIDS, and research continues in hopes of finding a way to identify and treat this deficiency.
Most recently, First Candle was one of six prestigious organizations formally invited to collaborate on the NICHD’s Safe to Sleep campaign launched in August, 2012. This campaign 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.