Trial aims to reduce infant mortality rate in UK
New mums who have their baby at Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, will be the first in the country to receive Finnish-style baby boxes for their newborn to sleep in as part of the first-ever UK trial.
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 currently 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 a very thick cardboard, are traditionally used in Finland as a baby’s bed for up to the first eight months of their life. Replacing the need for a traditional Moses basket or cot, it is thought the small size of the Baby Box prevents babies from rolling onto their tummies, which experts think can contribute to sudden infant death syndrome.
For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality. These boxes have been proven to help reduce the infant mortality rate in Finland and we hope that these results could be replicated in the UK
The trust will distribute 800 Baby Boxes, which also come with a firm foam mattress, waterproof mattress cover, cotton sheet and education materials, to new mums who have their baby at Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, on a first-come-first-served basis. As part of the trial, the babies who received the boxes will be monitored by the trust until they are eight months old and their parents will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about their use of the Baby Box.
Dr Karen Joash, consultant obstetrician at the trust, who is leading the Baby Box trial, said: “For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality. These boxes have been proven to help reduce the infant mortality rate in Finland and we hope that these results could be replicated in the UK.”
In addition to receiving the Baby Box, new mums will also be given specialist education materials, with advice from top experts in the field on how to further reduce the risk of infant mortality, improve parental bonding and supporting the transition to parenthood.
The Baby Box team at the trust is made up of specialist midwives, breastfeeding consultants, psychologists and obstetricians. They will work with health visitors and other professionals to ensure the educational side of the boxes is maximised and works for the trust’s local population.
Jennifer Clary, chief executive of The Baby Box Co, which is supplying the trust with the Baby Boxes and Baby Box University memberships for participating parents, said: “We are delighted to provide the Baby Boxes to the trust for UK parents and look forward to the results of the trial.”