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London hospital adopts Finnish-style baby boxes

Date :
08 September 2016
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Launching to coincide with Infant Mortality Awareness Month, the hospital is the second in the UK to introduce the initiative.
The Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, become the first in the UK to trial the baby box scheme in June.

The idea, which originates in Finland, has been credited with reducing the infant mortality rate in the country from 65 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 births in 2015.

In comparison, the UK has some of highest rates of infant mortality in Europe, ranking 22nd out of the 50 European countries with 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births.

The boxes, which are made from durable cardboard and come with a firm mattress, waterproof mattress cover and 100% cotton sheet, are traditionally used as an infant’s bed for up to six months.

Since the beginning of the Back to Sleep campaign in 1991 – which advocated placing babies on their back – the rate of sudden infant death syndrome in the UK has dropped by 75%.

However, North Middlesex noted that six to 10 babies born at its hospital still died of SIDs each year.

There is strong evidence from Finland that the Baby Box may prevent some of these deaths when tied to an education program such as Baby Box University and we hope to see the infant mortality rate decrease here with the introduction of this initiative.

Families receiving a box will also have access– via an online Baby Box University – to videos made by the trust’s doctors and midwives to help reduce the risk of infant mortality during pregnancy and the first year of life.

North Middlesex

North Middlesex Hospital
The educational videos are available in up to 17 different languages, including Turkish and Somali, the two most commonly requested local languages at North Middlesex University Hospital.

Michelle Lynch, the trust’s bereavement midwife who is leading the initiative, said: “By providing every new family with the chance to receive this box, we will ensure every child is offered the same safe start, regardless of their background.

“The online education platform Baby Box University provides an additional method of getting important health information and advice directly to the families we work with at a time and place that suits them,” she said.

She added: “We believe the project will help us to improve the health of mothers and babies and help tackle the area’s high rates of stillbirth and death in infancy.”

Jennifer Clary, chief executive of The Baby Box Co, which is supplying the trust with the boxes and online education platform, said: “We are delighted to continue the expansion of baby boxes to the NHS and look forward to an impactful collaboration here at North Middlesex University Hospital.”

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