There are no pink ribbons, no T-shirts or logos encouraging awareness and prevention.
Instead, it's a topic many people find difficult to discuss.
And unless you are a parent who has lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it is impossible to understand the level of pain.
One minute your child is alive. The next, he or she is gone.
The syndrome is exactly what it says — the sudden, unexpected death of a baby under the age of one that occurs while the infant is thought to be sleeping.
There usually are no warnings or symptoms, no clues that such a tragedy can occur.
But each year, about 2,500 deaths in the United States will be attributed to SIDS.
The cause of SIDS is still an enigma, but researchers have been optimistic over the past decade about new advances in the search for answers, as well as a marked reduction in SIDS rates.
The decline is credited to medical studies and a public education campaign that warn about the increased risk of SIDS in babies sleeping on their stomachs or sharing a bed with an adult or older child.
Despite those advances, SIDS remains the No. 1 cause of infant death.
It's a statistic that the American SIDS Institute is hoping to eliminate through research and awareness, which is the basis for Spring-for-SIDS Day.
Across the country, businesses, schools, groups and organizations will be hosting a wide variety of fundraising events designed to put the spotlight on sudden infant death syndrome.
Locally, a SIDS Zumbathon Charity Event is planned from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14, at 4-Star Athletic Complex in Williamsport.
Heading the effort will be Teena Hine, who also will be among the participating Zumba instructors.
Hine understands the importance of funding research that could prevent even one more infant death.
In 2009, she and her husband Kyle lost their 3 1/2-month-old son Andrew to SIDS.
It had been a normal pregnancy with no complications for the Hedgesville, W.Va., woman — "my third pregnancy out of four," she noted.
When Andrew was born, he weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was a very healthy baby, she recalled.
Hine said she had always kept educated on the topic of SIDS was "very adamant about taking the little-known precautions to prevent the syndrome."
"Like most mothers, I feared SIDS with every child," she said "Even when you do all that you can to prevent it, unfortunately, it can still occur — which is why research is so important."
Hine said Andrew passed away in his sleep while napping at daycare.
"He was taking a normal nap at a usual time," she explained. "When the daycare provider went to check on him, she found him in the tummy-sleeping position and he was non-responsive."
Hine said both she and her husband are educators and were teaching when they received a call at school, informing them that Andrew had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.
"We waited for over an hour while they attempted to resuscitate him with no success," she said. "No signs of asphyxiation were found, nor did any of the detailed medical exams and tests show signs of an unknown health problem.
"It's something you never get over," she said, "knowing you had a healthy, normal baby when you dropped him off before work that morning and, hours later, he's gone with no explanation."
Since Andrew's death, Hine said she has met another family in the area who lost a baby to SIDS, "as well as moms across the world online who have lost an infant to SIDS without answers."
Hine said she and her husband came across Spring-for-SIDS through The American SIDS Institute's website.
"We wanted to know how we could be advocators for prevention in our son's name, and (we) have found the opportunity to host our own SIDS campaign locally," she said. "Through this campaign, we have found support and a sense of comfort that we are somehow aiding in research, which could help to one day end this tragedy."
Hine said 100 percent of the proceeds from the Zumbathon will go to the American SIDS Institute for research.
"At this time, SIDS research is almost halted, due to the lack of funding," Hine noted. "But SIDS is still the No. 1 cause of infant death. Unfortunately, it is talked about so little, so we hope to get the community involved to raise awareness as well as help fund research once again."
Hine said tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event. They can be purchased at the front desk of 4-Star Athletic Complex, Tan-N-Tone of Hedgesville, W. Va., or from participating instructors at Gold's Gym in Martinsburg, W.Va. Each purchased ticket enters participants into drawings for prizes and giveaways from local restaurants, grocery stores and gift baskets.
Hine said the official team name for this campaign is Prevent SIDS Kids and the fundraising site is www.springforsids.org/teams/prevent-sids-kids.
"It's a great opportunity to come out and do something great for your body, while helping to save the life of a baby," Hine said.
If you go ...
WHAT: SIDS Zumbathon Charity Event
WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14
WHERE: 4-Star Athletic Complex, 30 Milestone Terrace, Williamsport
COST: $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event
TICKETS: Can be purchased at 4-Star Athletic Complex; Tan-N-Tone, 4174 Hedgesville Road, Hedgesville, W.Va.; or from participating instructors at Gold’s Gym, 167 Eagle School Road, Martinsburg, W.Va.
Each purchased ticket will be entered nto drawings for prizes and giveaways from local restaurants, grocery stores and gift baskets. Information also is available on Facebook by searching Spring-For-SIDS Zumbathon Charity Event.
More information about SIDS can be found at the American SIDS Institute website, www.sids.org
REDUCING THERISK OF SIDS
While all sudden infant death syndrome deaths cannot be prevented, the American SIDS Institute of SIDS offers the following advice:
- Mothers-to-be should get medical care early in their pregnancy, preferably within the first three months, followed by regular checkups at the doctor's office or health clinic. Make every effort to assure good nutrition. These measures can reduce the risk of premature birth, a major risk factor for SIDS.
- Do not smoke or use drugs during pregnancy. Tobacco, cocaine or heroin use during pregnancy increases the infant's risk for SIDS.
- Avoid pregnancy during the teenage years. The SIDS rate decreases for babies born to older mothers. It is highest for babies born to teenage mothers.
- Wait at least one year between the birth of a child and the next pregnancy. The shorter the interval between pregnancies, the higher the SIDS rate.
- Place infants to sleep on their backs, even though they might sleep more soundly on their stomachs. Infants who sleep on their stomachs and sides might have a higher rate of SIDS than infants who sleep on their backs.
- Place infants to sleep in a baby bed with a firm mattress. There should be nothing in the bed but the baby — no covering, no pillows, no bumper pads, no toys. Soft mattresses and heavy covering are associated with the risk for SIDS.
- Keep your baby's crib in the parents' room until the infant is at least 6 months of age. Studies show that infants are safest when their beds are close to their mothers.
- Do not place your baby to sleep in an adult bed. Do not fall asleep with your baby on a couch or in a chair.
- Do not over-clothe the infant while sleeping. Just use enough clothes to keep the baby warm without having to use a cover. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for you. Overheating an infant may increase the risk for SIDS.
- Avoid exposing infants to tobacco smoke. Don't have your infant in the same house or car with someone who smokes. The greater the exposure to tobacco smoke, the greater the risk of SIDS.
- Breast feed babies whenever possible. Breast milk decreases the occurrence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Studies show thatbreast-fedbabies have a lower SIDS rate than formula-fed babies.
- If your baby has periods of not breathing, going limp, turning blue or gags excessively after spitting up, tell your pediatrician immediately.
Thoroughly discuss each of the above points with all caregivers and provide a copy of this list to them. Make sure they follow all recommendations.