Casey, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Unexpected Child, Infant Deaths

Casey, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Unexpected Child, Infant Deaths

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), alongside U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Doug Jones (D-AL) and introduced the Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act, critical bipartisan and bicameral legislation to combat Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood. U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tom Cole (R-OK), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Susan K. DelBene (D-WA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Peter King (R-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) are leading the effort in the House of Representatives.

“This legislation is named ‘Scarlett’s Sunshine’ after a little girl who was lost to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood,” said Senator Casey. “I wanted to honor Scarlett’s memory and make sure that the federal government is taking all possible steps to ensure that no family will have to suffer the death of a child, without knowing why. It’s appalling that over 400 children ages 1–18 and over 3,600 infants each year are dying from these unexplained causes. I urge my colleagues to join us in this bipartisan, bicameral effort.”

“I’m proud to join hands with my colleagues in the House and Senate in support of The Scarlett’s Sunshine On Sudden Unexpected Death Act. This issue impacts many in my home state of Wisconsin, as we still rank highest in the country in infant mortality rates, especially among African Americans. I’m hopeful these coordinated efforts will help us find the answers parents and scientists desperately need to eliminate these deaths,” Congresswoman Gwen Moore said.

“On January 8th, 2017, our lives were shattered when our beautiful, healthy, thriving 16-month-old daughter, Scarlett Lillian Pauley, went to sleep and never woke up. And we do not know why," said Stephanie Zarecky and Ryan Pauley. "Losing a child is the single greatest pain we could ever imagine and living without answers magnifies the tragedy exponentially. We try every day to spread Scarlett's Sunshine, allowing her memory to shine on and bring light to unexplained death in childhood, the medical mystery that took her from us. We thank Senator Casey for his leadership on Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act in honor of Scarlett and all of the other children who are deeply loved and missed.”

"Among developed nations, the U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates and every parent should be grateful to this bipartisan group of policymakers for taking action,” said John Kahan, founder of the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild of Seattle Children’s Hospital and Chief Data Analytics Officer, Microsoft, AI for Good. “As a parent who lost our only son to SIDS, I know first-hand how this issue affects lives of those who will never be the same because of SIDS/SUID.  This legislation modernizes our approaches to finding the causes and offers hope that we’ll prevent future deaths. From the bottom of my heart, and behalf of all parents who are haunted by this terrible mystery, you have my deepest thanks.”

“Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act is vital legislation addressing the importance of a multi-faceted national effort to help reduce the numbers of infants and children dying of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood”, said Judy Bannon, Executive Director and Founder of Cribs for Kids, Inc.  “Cribs for Kids is proud to support this legislation that will enable us to educate more families throughout the country about infant safe sleep practices and provide safety approved cribs to families in need.”  

“Every year, at least 400 children over the age of 12 months are lost to sudden unexplained deaths in the United States,” said Laura Gould Crandall, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the SUDC Foundation. “While it is the fifth leading category of death among children ages 1 to 4, SUDC has not been directly addressed in our federal policy in regards to surveillance, research or prevention strategies. We can and we must do better. We applaud Senator Casey’s leadership on behalf of SUDC families worldwide and look forward to working with him to achieve our mission of a future free of SUDC.” 

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 are completed for 100 percent of infant and child fatalities. Currently, there are no nationwide standards for investigating and collecting data following an infant or child death. This makes it often impossible to determine the causes of these deaths, and what strategies our country can implement to prevent these tragedies.

This bill has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, Children’s Hospital Association, Cribs for Kids, First Candle, SUDC Foundation, KID: Fighting for Product Safety, and the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild of Seattle Children’s Hospital.

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