Dealing With SIDS
One of the greatest challenges facing young parents today is what is known as SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. This can occur at any time during the first year of a young child when it is sleeping, with no warning or apparent reason.
Recently a specially designed box has been made available to the public that acts as a safe bed for young children to guard against this happening. These “baby boxes” are being used by parents across the country to ward off the risk of SIDS. They are manufactured by the Los Angeles – based company Baby Box Co., which is also working in cooperation with hospitals throughout the country to make these simple boxes available for free to new parents who receive them after viewing a 15 minute educational video about safe sleeping habits for babies and passing a quiz regarding the video. Each box comes equipped with night clothes for baby, a mattress, sheet, and $150 worth of baby products.
In addition, several states have set up programs to distribute the box to young couples. For example New Jersey has become the first state to adopt a program to distribute 105,000 boxes. And now Ohio has also joined in with their own program as well as hospitals in Philadelphia and San Antonio, Texas.
The boxes are modeled after a program that has been in place in Finland for more than 70 years. It consists of a simple box whose aim is to curb the infant mortality rate by promoting safe sleeping practices for newborns. In a course that accompanies the product’s distribution parents are discouraged from sleeping with their child, putting toys in their bed, or placing the baby on his or her stomach, all of which practices have been known to lead to SIDS. Such death are usually attributed to strangulation or suffocation. In 2015, the latest year for which there are data for this phenomenon, the Center for Disease Control reported that approximately 3,700 infants died from SIDS.
Those that support the use of these baby boxes say that combined with the proper educational tools their use will reduce the infant mortality rate to that which exists in wealthy Nordic countries.
Dolores Peterson is seen with her three-month-old daughter placed in a baby box that doubles as a crib at their home in Camden, New Jersey.
To judge whether the use of this new product will be successful you can look at the data collected in Finland with the beginning of the program in 1949 when mothers were given the choice of using the box. During the 1930s, infant mortality in that country stood at 65 deaths per 1,000 infants. Beginning from 1949 the number shrunk to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 births – a decrease that points to the use of the baby boxes. Compare this to the United States where the infant mortality rate in 2016 was 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births.
These US figures are mostly the results of infant mortality data drawn from lower socioeconomic groups that are reported after the mother leaves the hospital. Other factors may be a lack of health insurance for this group and of maternal education.