Programme aims to reduce UK's high infant mortality rates
Families who have their baby at North Middlesex University Hospital will be among the first in the country to receive a Finnish-style Baby Box for their newborn to sleep in.
Launching to coincide with Infant Mortality Awareness Month, North Middlesex University Hospital is the second hospital in the UK to launch the Baby Box programme.
The Baby Box tradition, which originates from 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.
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 Baby Boxes, which are made from a special, durable cardboard and come with a firm mattress, waterproof mattress cover and 100% cotton sheet, are traditionally used in Finland as an infant’s bed for up to the first six months of their life.
Since the beginning of the Back to Sleep campaign in 1991, the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs) in the UK has dropped by 75% and more than 10,000 babies who would have died have survived.
We now know that all babies must be put to sleep on their back, with feet to the end of their sleep space, whether it be an EN Standard-compliant Baby Box, bassinet, or crib. We also know that bed sharing with a parent is dangerous, particularly if either parent smokes, consumes alcohol or uses drugs. Babies should also not co-sleep if they are born early or are smaller than expected.
Unfortunately, between six and 10 babies born at North Middlesex University Hospital still die of SIDs each year, a tragedy for the families and the local community.
There is strong evidence from Finland that the Baby Box may prevent some of these deaths.
Families receiving a Baby Box will have access to the Baby Box University, a comprehensive maternal and childcare education platform, during their pregnancy.
Developed with leading medical experts around the world, Baby Box University enables each of its healthcare partners to customise the educational content to suit local need.
North Middlesex University Hospital’s Baby Box University provides women and their partners with videos, made by its team of doctors and midwives, to help reduce the risk of infant mortality during pregnancy and the first year of life.
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, bereavement midwife at North Middlesex University Hospital who is leading the Baby Box initiative, said: “We are delighted to be launching the Baby Box programme.
"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.
"It includes the information that is most relevant to them – such as the loss of fetal movement during pregnancy – which many mothers do not report until it’s too late.
"Most crucially, by providing translations in the languages used by the women we work with, we hope more will recognise the need to get help earlier should complications arise.
"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.”