Wilton resident John F. Ciannella, M.D. has been appointed to the Board of Directors of First Candle, it was announced by CEO Alison Jacobson and Board chair David Cunningham.

Ciannella is associate director of the Division of Neonatology at Stamford Hospital, where he oversees newborn and premature infant care and treats neonatal emergencies. He is also director of the hospital’s Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) Infant Clinical Evaluation program, or NICE, which tracks the progress of infants born with very low birthweight or after less than 32 weeks gestation.

His initiatives also include increasing the number of physician assistants and neonatal nurse practitioners within the NICU team, providing greater comprehensive, coordinated care by a team trained in multiple specialties.

Since relocating their headquarters to New Canaan, CT last year, First Candle has been actively growing its presence in this area and the addition of Dr. Ciannella to the Board is an important part.

“Sadly, here in Connecticut the rate of sleep-related infant deaths due to accidental suffocation are 30% higher than the national average. Dr. Ciannella understands all too well the devastating consequences of parents not being aware and following the Safe Sleep guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. His expertise and desire to help us increase awareness among parents and caregivers about these guidelines will be invaluable,” Jacobson notes.

Ciannella is a graduate of St. George’s University and completed his residency and fellowship training at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, which is part of Northwell Health, and joined Stamford Hospital in 2011. He is Board-certified in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics.

First Candle, based in New Canaan, CT, is a 501c(3) committed to eliminating, through education and research, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths including accidental suffocation. It also provides bereavement support for families who have lost a child due to SIDS, sleep-related infant deaths, stillbirth and miscarriage. SIDS remains the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of age.