Editorial: Fun with brackets for serious cause

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 07:02 PM

March Madness isn’t all fun and games for Duke University students who launched the Brackets4Life website.

Instead, they’re using our love of springtime bracketology to help support a serious issue: research into the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

For as little as $2, NCAA basketball fans can fill out their picks at brackets4life.com. You can give as much as you want. Not a fan? Don’t care if the Final Four includes Blue Devils or Tar Heels? They’ll still take your donations if you’re feeling generous.

And you should. It’s a worthy cause. Half the donations are supposed to go to The CJ Foundation for SIDS, while the top five point-earners in the pool see their 10 percent of the proceeds going to the charity of his or her choice.

Deaths among infants from SIDS have dropped drastically since the 1980s, but it still claims about 2,500 children each year and the cause remains unknown. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, SIDS may be caused by factors such as problems with a baby’s ability to wake up and a deficiency in the body’s ability to detect a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. Risk factors associated with SIDS include an infant sleeping on their stomach, exposure to cigarette smoke while in the womb or after birth, soft crib bedding, living in poverty and late or no prenatal care.

The Duke student-entrepreneurs got the idea for Brackets4Life from a peer who has had personal experience with SIDS. When he was about 2, freshman Michael McConville’s 5-month-old brother died. He pitched the idea in the tradition started by his parents, who channeled their grief into an annual golf outing to raise money for research.

As of Monday morning, The Herald-Sun’s Laura Oleniacz reported, the site had raised several thousand dollars.

“I’m pretty happy so far,” McConville said. “I know we’ve reached a lot of people and if we can reach a lot of people and (make people aware of) ways to protect their infants from SIDS, I’ll consider it a success no matter how much it makes.”

With that in mind, here are some prevention tips suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Always put a baby to sleep on his or her back.
  • Only put babies to sleep in a crib.
  • Let babies sleep in the same room (but not in same bed) as parents.
  • Avoid soft bedding materials.
  • Make sure room temperature isn’t too hot.
  • Offer baby a pacifier when going to sleep.

Be sure to post your picks at brackets4life.com before lunch Thursday. Clock’s ticking.