SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

What is SIDS?

History of Federal Initiatives

Photo of SIDS book

During the 1960s, a number of parents who experienced the sudden and unexpected deaths of their infants began to come together to find answers for why their babies died. Parents formed organizations and networks to advocate for research and bereavement services for families. Parents also organized to increase the public’s awareness of these deaths. During the 1970s, a number of smaller parent organizations merged into larger national organizations—such as the National SIDS Foundation and the Center for the Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which formed the SIDS Alliance (now First Candle/SIDS Alliance)—that continued to advocate for national legislation for bereavement support, training and education and public awareness.

With the passage of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act (Public Law 93-270) of 1974, the Federal commitment to the prevention of SIDS was significantly broadened. The act:

Assigned responsibility for conducting SIDS research to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). NICHD was to report annually to Congress on SIDS research and its budget.

Authorized the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare [HEW, now the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)] to develop a program of public information and educational materials about SIDS.

Authorized the Secretary of HEW to gather and provide information on the causes of SIDS and provide grants and contracts to programs to offer information and counseling to families.

Authorized appropriation of funds to carry out these activities for fiscal years 1975 to 1977. The program continued to be authorized in one-year increments until 1978 and the passage of Public Law 95-613, which extended authorization through fiscal year 1981.

State-level programs and services dramatically changed in 1981 when Congress passed the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant Act, which established a Federal- State partnership for services at the State and local levels and substantially changed the organization of program services.

SIDS became one of the eligible services to be provided under the MCH Block Grant along with other programs and services with the purpose of improving the health of mothers and children consistent with the applicable health status goals and national health objectives established under the Public Health Service Act for the Year 2000.

At this time, 59 territories, jurisdictions and States receive funds under the MCH Block Grant. State and local SUID/SIDS programs usually receive funding through the block grants. There is no single program model for the State's provision of risk reduction and bereavement support services for families experiencing fetal or infant losses. Depending on the organizational model for a particular State or local area, program services vary.