First Candle’s “Let’s Talk Community Chats” program has launched with the goal of increasing safe sleep in infants to combat sudden unexpectant infant death (SUID).
First Candle has begun work to decrease the impact of structural racism, along with other social determinants that impact infant health and mortality.
SUID has been the cause of over 3500 infant deaths annually in the United States. Black babies are affected at 3 times the rate of white babies, and the rate of deaths have remained the same in the last decade despite guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The AAP’s recommendations guide parents on where and how to place a baby for sleep, along with details on how breast feeding and non-smoking improves infant health. In communities of Color or low income, parents may be unable to follow these guidelines, or the guidelines might go ignored.
In their goal of combating SUID, First Candle has launched “Let’s Talk Community Chats,” a program to increase the number of education and support services on safe sleep, breastfeeding, and use of products. The program partners with multiple trusted community organizations, putting community leaders and families at the center of the program.
With community leaders at the center, cultural beliefs, socioeconomic challenges, and structural racism is more often heard and addressed. Training is provided to doulas, lactation consultants, dads, and other family caregivers, explaining why safe sleep is important and what strategies should be used.
Community Chats involve monthly gatherings at locations frequently visited by family members to engage in conversation where facilitators can address concerns, provide guidance, share experiences, and answer questions. These occur after training has been completed.
The program was built on information which First Candle received from communities of Color, made possible by a grant First Candle received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2019. According to Alison Jacobson, CEO of First Candle, conversations on safe sleep must be respectful and culturally appropriate to make proper changes.
First candle launches community-driven program to reduce infant mortality. 2022. Accessed on October 19, 2022.