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ATLANTA – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., this week reintroduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen existing efforts to understand Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood and improve prevention efforts.

The Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act, S.1130, 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.

“This legislation will help us learn more about sudden unexplained infant child death cases and give states, municipalities and agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta more tools to help prevent these devastating tragedies,” said Isakson. “It will help save children’s lives and empower health care providers, parents and caregivers as we find ways to prevent unexplainable deaths.”

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. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017, there were 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States. Of these, there were about 1,400 deaths due to SIDS, about 1,300 deaths due to unknown causes, and about 900 deaths due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood refers to the death of a child 12 months and older that remains unexplained after a thorough case review.

The Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act coordinates efforts between the 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 in the Senate by Isakson along with Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Companion legislation in the U.S. House was introduced by U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore, D-Wis., Tom Cole, R-Okla., Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y., Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Susan K. DelBene, D-Wash., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Peter King, R-N.Y., Betty McCollum, D-Minn., Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.

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

The full text of the legislation is online here.

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