U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., this week introduced critical bipartisan and bicameral legislation to combat Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood and strengthen existing efforts to understand these tragedies and improve prevention efforts.
The Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act would supply grants to help states, municipalities and nonprofits improve data collection and death scene investigations related to unexpected infant and child deaths, promote safe sleep practices, and ensure death reviews for every infant and child fatality. Currently, there are no nationwide standards for investigating and collecting data following an infant or child death. This makes it nearly impossible to determine the causes of these deaths and what strategies our country can implement to prevent these tragedies.
“No parent should experience the horrifying loss of a small child, especially under sudden, unexpected and unexplained circumstances,” said Isakson. “We should be doing everything we can to learn more about sudden infant and unexplained child death cases to help improve awareness, education and prevention of these devastating tragedies. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to ensure we are employing every resource available, including the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, to combat infant mortality and protect our youngest and most innocent lives.”
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death refers to any sudden and unexpected death that occurs during infancy from birth to age one, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome more commonly known as SIDS and other ill-defined deaths. In 2015, nearly 3,700 infants died in the United States under this classification, which is the leading cause of infant deaths.
Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood refers to the death of a child 12 months and older, which remains unexplained after a thorough case review, and is the fifth leading cause of death in young children. In 2015, 216 children between one and four years of age died without clear explanation.
The Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act coordinates efforts between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta and state and local agencies to improve reporting for Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood through grant funding and a commissioned CDC study on testing and best practices in these cases.
The bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced by Isakson along with Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore, D-Wis., Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.
This bill has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Association, Cribs for Kids, First Candle, March of Dimes, Kids in Danger, SUDC Foundation, Within our Reach, and Aaron Matthew SIDS Guild of Seattle Children’s Hospital.