Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. Monday stood with advocates, doctors and parents who have been affected by either a sudden infant death or stillbirth to call for action on legislation that would have a significant impact finding the causes, raising awareness about and preventing deaths that leave so many families with more questions than answers.
"There is no greater tragedy than when a parent loses a child -- but when that child is an infant, the pain is unbearable," said Senator Lautenberg, "This bill will improve the way we collect data about these deaths so that researchers have the information they need, and it will provide families with the information and support they deserve. It's time to finally unravel the mysteries behind these deaths."
Every year, there are more than 25,000 stillbirths in the United States. Many of these deaths are the result of birth defects, infections, umbilical cord problems, and chronic conditions of the mother. However, there is no known cause for as many as half of all stillbirths, leaving many parents without explanations for their loss.
"No parent should have to endure the pain of losing a child, especially without knowing why that child was taken from them so soon," said Pallone. "Our legislation works for a better chance at life for our nation's children and works to answer the questions parents face after they lose a child unexpectedly."
There are more than 4,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths each year and another 200 children between the ages 1 and 4 die without any obvious cause. Additional tragedies could be prevented if there were a better understanding of the deaths.
At the event, which took place at UMDNJ - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Pallone and Lautenberg stood with parents who have experienced a loss due to a sudden unexplained infant death as well as leaders in the medical profession from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the SIDS Center of New Jersey who are on the forefront of preventing these deaths in children.
Lautenberg and Pallone Monday introduced legislation that will contribute significantly to better understanding the causes of these conditions. The Stillbirth and SUID Prevention, Education, and Awareness Act would:
· Expand current data collection activities to identify the causes of stillbirth and ways to prevent it in the future;
· Create a national public awareness and education campaign to educate women about the risk factors for stillbirth, educate women about the importance of prenatal care, and educate parents and caregivers about known SUID risk factors;
· Expand support services, such as grief counseling, for families who have experienced a stillbirth or SUID loss;
· Encourage states and local entities to complete scene investigations and autopsies to help determine causes of SUIDs;
· Expand child death review programs to review the circumstances surrounding infant and child deaths;
· Establish a national database to track SUID deaths and identify risk factors.