NJ, OH, AL Offer Baby Boxes To Help Lessen SIDS Cases

First Posted: Mar 27, 2017 05:20 AM EDT

New Jersey -- A public health initiative had hospitals carrying out newborn infants in simple cardboard boxes as a way to reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The initiative, which started in New Jersey in January, has since been practiced by 3,800 parents.

According to the Boise State Public Radio, SIDS killed around 3,700 babies in the United States in 2015. These boxes double not only as cribs but as care packages full of newborn baby necessities as well. New Jersey is the first state to adapt the program that began as "baby boxes" in Finland.

Dr. Kathryn McCans of Cooper University Health Care in Candem, New Jersey, explained the necessity of these boxes, which she emphasized are not safer than a crib. However, she does admit that these boxes meet all the recommendations for safe sleep.

Dr. McCans explained that the program is meant to decrease sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID), which are compromised of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths in infants. Sleep-related deaths also include suffocation under pillows and blankets, strangulation or even entrapment.

The baby boxes are supposed to promote safe sleep environment. Dr. McCans said that while many parents seem to think beautiful cribs are the best for their babies, in reality, little is needed for safe sleep. Pillows, bumpers, blankets and even stuffed animals can be dangerous to newborns.

The U.S. version of the baby box is slightly different than its Finnish model, though. According to NPR, Finland's maternity package is given by the government to expectant mothers during their prenatal checkup. Inside the box are clothing, blankets and other important baby supplies.

In New Jersey, it is not a prenatal incentive but rather a message of safety post-partum. Since it started, New Jersey already distributed approximately 17,000 boxes. Earlier this month, Ohio also made baby boxes available to all families with newborns and had since distributed 6,000 boxes. Joining these states in their fight to decrease the number of SIDS fatalities is Alabama, which aims to distribute 60,000 boxes for the newborns.

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