Entries by Stephanie

GAO Calls On HHS to Create Strong Assessments for White House Blueprint on the Maternal Health Crisis

February 2024 – Citing a “maternal health crisis”, this month the General Accounting Office reported that maternal mortality and other adverse pregnancy- or childbirth-related outcomes “worsened significantly” in 2020/2021 over 2018/2019. This included persistent disparities during the pandemic: the rate for non-Hispanic Black/African American women was around 2.5 times greater than for non-Hispanic white women. […]


The Consequences of the Abortion Ban

By Sarah Beach In the news this week I found an article in Time that shocked me, as it stood out from all of the tough news we see every day. My work with First Candle, which deals with infant loss through its work to end Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and its support for […]

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A SIDS risk reduction practice is threatened.

At First Candle we are committed to promoting activities and practices that help to reduce the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) One of these is breastfeeding.  Not only does breastfeeding reduce the rate of SIDS by 50% and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) but breastfeeding helps mom recover quicker […]

Safe Sleep Community Outreach Program Success

In May 2022 First Candle launched the Let’s Talk Community Chat program, with Harlem as the first site, in partnership with the Hope Center Harlem and with the support of the Ryan Wolfe Kossar Foundation. Let’s Chat is an extension of our educational programming, offering families in the community the chance to discuss and learn about infant […]

Guys and Grief podcast launches

A new resource for grieving dads Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of Guys and Grief – a podcast dedicated to helping dads navigate their grief journey. The first episode airs today and you can listen to it here. It’s especially significant as one of the co-hosts of the podcast is Brian Scruton, the […]

Coping with grief during the holidays

The holiday season is a time for gathering and celebrating, but it can also be a difficult time for those who have lost an infant. It doesn’t matter if it was recent or not; even if parents and families have resumed their daily lives, the grief of losing an infant never goes away, whether it’s […]

Lucina is happy to announce partnership with First Candle

In the 90s, the proverb “It Takes A Village to Raise a Child” took root and became a popular part of our collective culture. More than 30 years later, the sentiment of that proverb remains true: it takes a concerted effort to ensure moms and babies have the access to care, education and support they […]

March of Dimes 2022 Report Card

Yesterday, the March of Dimes issued its 2022 Report Card on U.S. preterm birth rates, and it tells us that the national rate is now 10.5% — a 4% increase over 2021 and the highest recorded rate since 2007, earning a grade of D+. The report also includes a grade and rates for each state […]

Byron Johnson Appointed Chairman of the Board of First Candle

Byron Johnson has been appointed as Chair of the Board of Directors First Candle, it was announced by CEO and Executive Director Alison Jacobson. Johnson is Vice President, Public Affairs at Fleishman Hillard, a global public relations agency with 79 offices in more than 30 countries. An experienced public relations and issues advocacy professional, Johnson’s […]


Statement on new AAP Guidelines and CPSC final rule on safe sleep

Today, the new safe sleep recommendations were released by the American Academy of Pediatrics. On Thursday the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s new federal rule goes into effect that states the only products that can be marketed for infant sleep are cribs, bassinets, play yards and bedside sleepers.  And last month President Biden signed the Safe […]

Join us in Atlanta in June

Come join us on Saturday June 11th in Atlanta, Georgia for an evening of delicious food, great music, and lots of fun! Light the Night in Georgia is an evening to raise awareness and support the survival of Georgia’s babies. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) claims the lives of 3,500 babies every year. Georgia has the 8th […]

Let’s Talk has launched in Harlem!

Last week we kicked off our Let’s Talk Community Chat program in partnership with the Hope Center Harlem and the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership.  This program will offer families in the community the opportunity to receive education and support regarding safe sleep and breastfeeding every month at a location that is convenient and accessible. These community events will […]

What parents don’t know can harm their babies.

As I have written over the past several months, First Candle is committed to engaging in conversations with families and providing them with practical information on the importance of safe sleep practices that are not only evidenced based, but reality based. We know that parents want to do what’s best for their baby but are […]

Meet our NYC Marathon Team!

The New York City Marathon is less than two weeks away and we’re so honored and excited to have an amazing group of 16 runners as part of Team First Candle. We have runners who are new to our team and returning runners. We have siblings, aunts, uncles, parents and friends who have experienced the […]

First Candle Convenes Public Health Advisory Committee to Address Role of Racial Disparity and Implicit Bias in Infant Mortality Rates

April 12, 2021, New Canaan, CT –  First Candle, the national non-profit committed to ending Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), has announced the formation of a standing Public Health Advisory Committee of health care professionals and advocates to address racial disparity, health equity and implicit bias in maternal and infant health practices and their impacts […]

Hope for the days ahead

We thank Lauren McDaniel, a community member in our bereavement support group, for allowing us to repost her blog post. FEBRUARY 2, 2021 BY LAUREN MCDANIEL The day after Maddie died, I remember specifically asking “Will we ever be OK again?” In those first hours, and days, and even weeks, there were so many moments when I […]

Join us for an Evening of Chocolate, Music and Love

Get a head start on Valentine’s Day with an evening of chocolate, music and love. Join us on Tuesday, February 9th at 8P when you and your partner can learn how to make and create three decadent Hot Cocoa Bombs.  If you’ve never heard of these before, they’re delicious artisanal creations that are dropped into […]

Join us for an evening of Whiskey and Chocolate Tasting!

WHEN:  Thursday, December 10th, 7-8:30PM EST Join us for another Zoom event sampling three whiskeys from Woodinville Whiskey Co. accompanied with infused chocolate bonbons and truffles from Yelibelly Chocolates. Renee George will be discussing the history of Woodinville distillery and what led to them earning “Craft Whiskey of the Year” and “Craft Rye Whiskey of […]

Andrew F. Rubenstein, M.D. Named to First Candle Board of Directors

Andrew F. Rubenstein, MD, MPH, has joined the Board of Directors of New Canaan-based First Candle, it was announced by CEO Alison Jacobson and Board Chair David Cunningham. Dr. Rubenstein is the newly appointed Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology for the Dignity Health Medical Group at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center (SJHMC) in Phoenix, Arizona. This […]

First Candle Receives Grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation

First Candle, the national non-profit committed to ending Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID), has announced it is undertaking an initiative to collect input from communities of color to and share with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as it updates the Safe Sleep Guidelines, for release in 2021.

Racism Must End for The Sake of Our Babies – #everybabycounts

First Candle is committed to ensuring that every baby gets to his or her first birthday and beyond.  Far too many babies are still dying and sadly a disproportionate number are Black babies.  What’s more, Black mothers are 3x more likely to die during or immediately after childbirth. The stress of structural racism is a […]

Virtual Mother’s Day to Father’s Day Walk/Run Challenge

Join us for a virtual Walk/Run challenge And help us support grieving moms and dads   Every year over 27,000 families will experience the death of a baby from Sudden Unexpected Infant Death or Stillbirth. For these families, the support of friends and relatives is what helps them get through this devastating time. Sadly now, […]


Coronavirus: The Latest on Breastfeeding and Pregnancy

Knowledge is still unfolding, but the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued an advisory on the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19; here are the excerpts on breastfeeding and pregnancy: Pregnancy: very little is known right now on COVID-19’s effect on pregnant women and infants, and it is not clear if COVID-19 can […]

What Parents Need to Know About the Coronavirus

Needless to say,  everyone is nervous about the Coronavirus but there is always a great deal of misinformation that can spread.  We asked First Candle’s Board of Director Dr. John Cianella, Director of the Division of Neonatology at Stamford Health to provide us with the facts to share with our community: Human Coronaviruses are a […]


Message to grieving parents – It gets better..somewhat

16 years ago my son died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  He was 3 mos. and 24 days old.  That day, I wasn’t sure how, or even if, I wanted to survive.  I hardly remember anything from the days leading up to his memorial service and even less of the service itself and the sea […]

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First Candle Welcomes The Boppy Company Support Of Its Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep Program

Longtime donor The Boppy Company has confirmed its 2019 support for First Candle and their mission of reducing the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths according to First Candle CEO Alison Jacobson.  The national non-profit organization has been leading the way for over 40 years in educating parents and caregivers […]

Mother’s Day Jewelry for Bereaved Moms Who Are #alwaysamom

Once again, Natalie Kroft with Keep Collective has generously teamed up with First Candle and created some very special Mother’s Day jewelry.  Various pieces are available that can be inscribed with “Always A Mom.” “For many moms in our community whose baby has died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or other sleep-related infant death or […]

Please welcome our new First Candle Ambassadors

This weekend was an exciting time for our team. Over the weekend we conducted a two-day training with three women who will now be First Candle Ambassadors and conduct our Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep Trainings. We are proud to introduce you to Jen Ciannella, Carol Jordan and Dauline Singletary. Each has a public […]

Byron Johnson Joins First Candle Board of Directors

We’re pleased to announce that Byron Johnson, a public relations and issues advocacy professional, has joined the First Candle Board of Directors.  With nearly 20 years of experience creating and implementing awareness and social marketing campaigns, he brings to First Candle a desire to help families – with an emphasis on African American families and […]

Parental Bereavement Leave Act – Please Show Your Support

The loss of a child is devastating and leaves parents incapable of functioning for many weeks.  They need time to grieve and to begin healing.  First Candle is proud to support the Parental Bereavement Leave Act, prompted by The Farley-Kluger Initiative—a movement which began in 2011 to amend FMLA to allow up to 12 weeks […]

Statement from Alison Jacobson, CEO and Executive Director, First Candle

New Canaan, CT – The following is a statement from First Candle CEO and Executive Director Alison Jacobson regarding NICHD’s decision to release a strategic plan that excludes resources to battle SIDS. “The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) decision to release a strategic plan that places no priority […]

Help for a Grieving Parent at the Holidays

For those of us who have lost a child the holidays are always a difficult time.  Sure, we put on a good act for our other kids and even our family because, to be honest, they couldn’t handle our grief year after year.  After several years, we appear “normal” (whatever that means) but the grief […]


Safe Sleep and Breastfeeding Forum

New and energetic channels of communications between federal and regional groups opened up on November 5 when First Candle hosted a day-long Safe Sleep and Breastfeeding Forum at Stamford Hospital, fostering new relationships to help advance the Safe Sleep Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The event brought representatives from the Centers for […]

Important Legislation for SIDS

We at First Candle are reaching out to let you know of a promising piece of legislation now under review by the U.S. Congress, focused on improving resources devoted to improving better understanding and awareness around unexpected sudden death early in life, including SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths. Known as Scarlett’s Sunshine Act (H.R. […]

Halo joins First Candle’s Safe Sleep Guardian Program

We ‘re so excited when companies and influencers are willing to help spread the word about infant safe sleep in order to reduce the rate of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths such as accidental suffocation. Halo, a long-time supporter of First Candle has always been committed to safe sleep and in fact was founded […]

First Candle Launches Safe Sleep Guardian Campaign

Five Companies Earn the Designation by Committing to Only Showing Babies in a Safe Sleep Environment   September 12, 2018, New Canaan, Conn. — First Candle, the national non-profit organization committed to ending Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths, announced today the launch of the Safe Sleep Guardian program, designed to urge […]

Neonatologist John F. Ciannella joins First Candle Board of Directors

We are thrilled to announce that John F. Ciannella, MD has joined the First Candle Board of Directors. Dr. Ciannella is a fellowship-trained and board-certified neonatologist who since 2008 cares for newborn infants, specifically, babies who are born premature or diagnosed with complex medical and rare conditions and those who are critically ill. Dr. Ciannella […]

Black Nurses Conference

First Candle Presents Overview of Safe Sleep Program at Black Nurses Conference Last week First Candle’s Director of Education and Training attended the National Black Nurses Association, Black Nurses Conference and presented an overview of Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep.   This program addresses the obstacles and objections parent’s face in following the Safe Sleep guidelines […]

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2018 International Conference on Stillbirth, SIDS & Baby Survival – Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep

In June 2018,  Barbara Himes, our Director of Education and Training, attended the 2018 International Conference on Stillbirth, SIDS and Baby Survival in Glasgow, Scotland, where she presented our program, Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep, to a gathering of health care professionals, parents and SIDS researchers from around the world. She stressed Straight Talk’s […]

Why woman are still dying during childbirth in the USA

According to a USA TODAY investigative report released in July 2018, thousands of women every year suffer serious injury or death during childbirth due to ignored safety practices, making it especially important that women take an active interest in their own care. More than 50,000 women a year are injured and about 700 mothers die, […]


The Rate of SIDS drops…but there’s still work to do

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report announcing that infant mortality rates have dropped by 15% and the rate of SIDS by 29%.  That’s a huge success for those of us working in the field of infant health and survival. While this should be celebrated, there’s still a great deal of […]