Beards for Babies: Raising Awareness for Infant Health
No-Shave November and Movember ask us to put down the razor and grow our beards for a good cause. Both are aimed at bringing cancer awareness to the forefront of the public’s mind, and helping raise funds to fight the disease. However there is another organization that is asking beardsmen everywhere to unleash their man mane and grow for a good cause that most people aren’t talking about.
The UK’s Lullaby Trust provides specialist support for bereaved families, promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep and raises awareness on sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. While many parents may be familiar with SIDS, it is not a topic that is largely discussed, and many individuals, including new parents, are not aware of what it is and how to help prevent it. The Lullaby Trust is aiming to change that by opening a dialogue about SIDS through their “Beards for Babies” event.
“Beards for Babies started in 2015, as a previous corporate partner thought ‘Let’s all grow beards and fundraise for The Lullaby Trust!’ We then thought ‘What a brilliant idea,’ and decided to roll this out to all of our supporters so they could join in the bearded fun,” explains Anna Thomas, Deputy Head of Fundraising for The Lullaby Trust.
Thomas goes on to explain the importance of events like “Beards for Babies” and opening up discussions about SIDS, as well as what parents should know.
” Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant where no cause is found after detailed post mortem. Around 290 babies and toddlers still die every year of SIDS in the UK,” Thomas explains.
“Since parents and carers have been following the risk reduction advice first promoted in the early 1990's, the number of infants dying has fallen significantly. However we still have a lot of work to do if we are to reach our goal. The cause of SIDS is unknown, research has not found one definitive cause but it is likely that a combination of factors affect a baby at a vulnerable stage if development. Parents need to know the risk factors associated with SIDS and how to reduce the risk of it happening. We are working on four fronts to tackle SIDS: promoting safer sleep, offering bereavement support to any family affected, offering our Care of Next Infant Program (CONI) and researching and campaigning to keep SIDS on the public health agenda.”
In fact, the research and campaigning Thomas the Lullaby Trust is currently working on is aimed at “reducing the number of sudden and unexpected infant deaths by half, by the year 2020.”
“We need to ensure that all new parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are aware of and have access to our free resources on safer sleep, as well as the professionals supporting them. In particular we will focus on reaching families who we know have an increased risk of sudden infant death, such as young parents or smokers,” she says.
“We will also continue funding research into the causes and prevention of unexpected infant death, and have recently conducted a study that built consensus on the key research priorities for bereaved families and SIDS experts, all around the world. The findings of this study will be used to inform our research strategy from 2016, but we are currently funding research looking at both how to prevent sudden infant death through effective communication of the risk factors, and investigating the potential causes of SIDS, for example the link between brain stem dysfunction and its effect on hearing and SIDS.”
And this is where “Beards for Babies” comes in – the event, while still relatively young, is helping the Lullaby Trust make great strides toward their 2020 goals.
“The launch of ‘Beards for Babies’ in 2015 had a fantastic response and we were delighted to raise over £5,000,” Thomas says.
“As a very small charity, events like these make all the difference, not just in raising income but raising awareness too we are hoping that 2016 will be even bigger and better.”
And why does Thomas think that “Beards for Babies” is such a success?
“Everyone loves beards!” she says
“They are fashionable, funky and fun, and if you don’t have one then you should definitely set yourself the challenge and get involved with Beards for Babies – we look forward to supporting you!”
To get involved, visit www.lullabytrust.org.uk/beards-for-babies.