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Photo: Zach Sheldon / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn Medicine received a three-year, $1.35 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, according to an announcement from the University on Tuesday.

The money will go toward designing "an innovative and replicable program for promoting and evaluating safe sleep practices for newborns," according to the release, and will be shared between the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Hospital.

While Penn Medicine is receiving a state-funded boost from this grant, other areas of the University — specifically the School of Veterinary Medicine — are at risk of losing their regular state grants. In Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's latest budget proposal in February, he proposed cutting almost all of Penn Vet's $30 million in state funding. 

This program, dubbed the Philadelphia Safe Sleep Awareness for Every Newborn, will be "rolled out to hospitals, ambulatory care settings, communities, and homes" in an attempt to curb Philadelphia's unusually high rate of sudden unexpected infant death syndrome, said Marilyn Stringer, a professor of women's health nursing at HUP and a principal investigator for the program. 

SUID is an umbrella term that includes accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed and sudden infant death dyndrome. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that SUID causes 92.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.

The program’s goals include developing a safe-sleeping model to prevent SUID and implementing it in 10 other hospitals with mother and baby units. The program also aims to disseminate safe sleep practices throughout the Philadelphia population.

"By promoting safe sleep, and educating health care providers, parents and community members on [SUID] risk reduction strategies, we can help keep babies safe," Stringer said in the statement from Penn Medicine. 

Safe Sleep Awareness for Every Newborn is not the first initiative in Philadelphia aimed at curtailing SUID. 

The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University gained national attention last year following the launch of its “baby box” campaign, through which the institution gives crates containing supplies for newborn care. The crates double as bassinets, complete with a mattress and bedding.

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