CAUSE-Coalition Against Unsafe Sleep Environments
Across this country there is an epidemic of thousands of infants being injured and dying in unsafe sleep environments. These accidental deaths can be prevented. National, state and local groups are working hard to educate parents about safe sleep and to warn them about the dangers of suffocation or entrapment of an infant while sleeping in an adult bed, on couches, in a crib filled with blankets and pillows, or in a defective product.
The Stillbirth and SUID Prevention, Education, and Awareness Act of 2011 by Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Pallone (D-NJ6) was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in November 2011. If signed into law, this act will provide an array of opportunities for improving Sudden Unexpected Infant Death investigations, data collection, services and prevention. One major component of the legislation is the development and implementation of a national safe infant sleep campaign, to be coordinated through the Health Resources and Services Administration.
In anticipation of this legislation and in the spirit of collaboration the Coalition Against Unsafe Sleep Environments (CAUSE) was formed in July 2011. We believe the time is right to forge a partnership of the private, non-profit, consumer and government sectors working on the issue of infant safe sleep. This coalition will capitalize on the broad array of knowledge and experience we all bring from the injury prevention, SIDS, child welfare and Maternal and Child Health arenas. Together we can create a simple yet powerful campaign that warns parents against the dangers of bedsharing and other unsafe sleep environments.
Our coalition includes national, state, and local groups, as well as individuals who want to make a difference. We are coroners and medical examiners, first responders, hospital personnel, death investigators, researchers, pediatricians, child death review teams, and bereavement groups. We are parents, grandparents and other caregivers whose infant has died from a preventable accident. We have all been affected by the unnecessary and preventable death of an infant due to an unsafe sleep environment. We believe that our voice is stronger if we speak together than if we speak alone.
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What We Believe / Know:
- Hundreds, if not thousands, of babies are dying or being injured each year because they are placed in unsafe sleep environments. These are PREVENTABLE accidental injuries or deaths.
- Babies should only sleep in safe cribs, bassinets or play yards.
- Breastfeeding is best for babies and should be encouraged.
- Many parents are receiving no education, or mixed messages, about infant safe sleep.
- Many parents are told that bedsharing is safe, if done safely, and are encouraged by attachment parenting proponents to sleep with their infants to promote breastfeeding and bonding. Yet we know that bedsharing is a risk factor for both accidental suffocation and SIDS, and we believe that it cannot be done safely.
- Although individual pediatricians may provide varying advice, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that parents and infants sleep in close, but separate beds.
- Bedsharing is many times portrayed as safe in the media – on TV shows, talk shows, news articles, websites, etc.
- Pictures of babies asleep on their stomachs and in unsafe sleep environments are everywhere in the public domain, including on products and websites that promote infant safety.
- Our voice is stronger if we speak together than if we speak as individual organizations.
- To advocate as a group for infant safe sleep with a simple, clear message.
- To promote safe sleep environments through strong standards for cribs, bassinets and play yards and to advocate for safe products.
- To advocate for national and state legislation that promotes and supports better infant death investigations, better data collection, and better infant safe sleep education.
- To be a source for the most recent statistics and studies on infant suffocation and entrapment injuries and deaths.
- To respond to bedsharing advocates and media depictions of unsafe sleep environments with information about infant safe sleep, and back it up with accurate statistics and current studies.
- To be a repository of materials used across the country (brochures, videos, public service announcements, power point presentations, legislation) to avoid duplicative efforts.
- To be a watchdog for products that have been/should be recalled for safety issues, or for false claims of preventing SIDS.
- To determine why certain groups do not comply with safe sleep recommendations and create a national social marketing campaign that works.
- To partner with the Federal Government on a national infant safe sleep campaign.