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Observing International SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month


Lifestyle Improvement

Posted On: Oct 04, 2016

Observing International SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

You may not be aware of it, but October is the month set aside all over the world to pay tribute to the infants, both pre- and post-birth, whose candle was snuffed out before it got a chance to burn bright. Indeed, the culmination of the month of observance (taking place on October 15th:  International SIDS, Pregnancy, and Infant Loss Awareness Day), it is a customary to light a candle.

Specifically, observers are called upon to light a candle at 7 P.M. (1900) local time, and allow it to burn for at least an hour. Organizers call this the Wave of Light.

SIDS is short for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and it's just as awful and inexplicable as it sounds (if an autopsy reveals a cause of death, then by definition, it's not SIDS). Every day, an average of 13 babies succumb to it.

About 70 souls each day are stillborn. Stillbirths can occur for a variety of reasons, but invariably, the unexpected loss of a pregnancy or an infant is a grief orders of magnitude above more common occurrences of adult passing.

Across the United States, Remembrance Walks are taking place in recognition of the month. The larger ones are taking place in Atlanta, Houston, and Omaha. There are also Wave of Light ceremonies in Elko, Nevada and Valparaiso, Indiana.

In Australia, there will be a candle lighting ceremony in Adelaide, observance ceremonies in Hobart and in North Ryde, Remembrance walks in Central Coast, Adelaide, and Brisbane, and a Wave of Light in Muswellbrook.

Remembrance Day activities are also occurring in Canada (in Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, and Vancouver) and in the United Kingdom (a “remembrance celebration” to be held in Ulverston).

While in most places, these observances are unofficial, in the United States, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was officially decreed by Proclamation 5890 by President Ronald Reagan, who signed the proclamation on October 25th, 1988. At the time, over a million American babies were perishing each year in stillbirth or miscarriage (as noted in the proclamation), and thousands more died from SIDS.

Since then, the SIDS rate has happily been cut down by over half. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development attributes this to the “Safe to Sleep” campaign, which educates new parents on the importance of having their babies sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs. The SIDS rate is far, far lower in back-sleeping babies.

After Reagan signed the proclamation, governors of all 50 states followed suit by officially recognizing, at a minimum, Pregnancy Loss and Infant Awareness Day (some further authorized longer time periods). Like the worldwide commemoration, each state has set aside October 15th as the specific date. This was further bolstered at the national level by Proposition 222, passed by the House of Representatives on September 28, 2006, to recognize the date at the federal level. The official colors of the day/month are pink and light blue.