Safe Sleep Week Canada – A Father’s Legacy

March 20, 2024

Safe Sleep Week – March 11th to March 15th, 2024

On average in Canada, 1 in 15 infant deaths occur while the infant is sleeping*.

At Baby’s Breath, we believe that is one baby too many and we are the only national organization focused on SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Like many SIDS organizations, our story is rooted in loss. Along with that loss comes a deep desire to find answers and to prevent other families from experiencing the same devastating loss of a child.

One Man’s Legacy Becomes a Shared Vision

More than fifty years ago, Baby’s Breath was born as the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths. Its original directors included a man named Dr. Sydney Segal – a pediatrician and neonatologist. Dr. Segal was actively involved in the areas of medical ethics, fetal medicine, respiratory pediatrics, children with AIDS and SIDS.

Just a few years after the organization was founded, Dr. Segal lost his own daughter to SIDS and he became even more devoted to the cause. Not only was he one of Baby’s Breath’s founders, he sat on its medical advisory committee and was the driving force in creating the first ever Canadian SIDS conference held in 1974.

Aside from his accolades and accreditations in the medical field, Dr. Segal was incredibly passionate and had a way of making people feel like they were the only one in the room.

After his death in 1997, a note he had written was found amongst his papers:

“One ambition is to leave, for the enrichment of future generations, an indestructible legacy that is clearly tangible, but without the transience of material property.

Example of such legacy would include an artist’s beautiful painting or monument, a composer’s captivating music, a statesman’s contribution to social advancement, or a research scientist’s discovery of a new method for the promotion of health or the conservation of some natural resource.

Paramount in my ambition is for my own legacy to provide such an element.

I would be ever happier if that legacy were to carry a motivating force for some future person to improve its effectiveness.  Subsequently, my identification with the original could disappear.  Anyone who may be aware of the transfer of credit should feel no less satisfied.” 

Dr. Segal’s profound impact on SIDS research and prevention cannot be overstated. We believe his commitment to education and public health initiatives has saved countless lives, empowering parents and healthcare professionals with the knowledge needed to create safer sleep environments for infants. His legacy continues to inspire the work we do today.

Expanding our Impact

In 2015, the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths expanded its focus to include stillbirth and miscarriage and Baby’s Breath was officially reborn.

Our goals and objectives have remained the same: saving lives while also supporting families and advocating for critical research in these spaces.

As we launch this year’s “Safe Sleep Week”, we are incredibly excited to be partnering with Owlet. The campaign’s goal is to create awareness, as well as to educate families and caregivers on safe sleep practices, and we are confident that in combining Owlet’s innovation with our educational resources, we can empower parents and caregivers with the tools and knowledge to prioritize safe sleep practices.

It is still our vision to leave behind a world without SIDS and stillbirths, and along the way we will continue to advocate for and encourage research, share information, and provide bereavement support to families.

As Dr. Segal wrote and maintains one of our inspirations:“One ambition is to leave, for the enrichment of future generations, an indestructible legacy that is clearly tangible…”

*Statistic Canada