Baby boxes to be introduced

Baby boxes, which have been credited with significantly reducing the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) among babies in Finland, are to be introduced in Ireland.

Baby boxes are made of durable cardboard and they come with a firm, foam mattress, a waterproof mattress cover and a cotton sheet. They can be used as a baby's bed for up to the first eight months of life, replacing the traditional Moses basket and cot.

It is thought the small size of the box prevents babies from rolling on to their tummies, which is a risk factor for SIDS (cot death). SIDS refers to the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant, for which there is no explanation.The boxes have been in use in Finland for over 75 years and during that time, the infant mortality rate has fallen from 65 deaths per 1,000 births (in 1938) to 2.26 deaths per 1,000 births (in 2015).

Ireland's current infant mortality rate is 3.7 deaths per 1,000 births.

The Baby Box programme has been launched by University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL), which is one of the busiest maternity hospitals outside of Dublin. Around 5,000 babies are born here every year.

As part of the programme, mothers who complete e-learning modules will be provided with a free baby box for their infant to sleep in. According to UMHL, this online education element ‘is inclusive, accessible and easy to follow'. It is also available in 17 different languages.

Women booking in at antenatal classes in UMHL will be given details on how to sign up for e-learning at the Baby Box University.

While other countries, such as the UK and the US, have begun to introduce baby boxes, UMHL is the first Irish maternity hospital to introduce them.

"The Baby Box programme is a proactive approach to improving the health and safety of the newborn child and parents. We are combining tradition with current technology and supporting the newborn child's family with online educational material covering a broad range of essential topics on ante and postnatal care," explained Dr Mendinaro Imcha, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at UMHL.

According to Margaret Gleeson, chief director of nursing and midwifery in the UL Hospitals Group, up to 5,000 boxes are expected to be distributed over the coming year and education is a central element of this project.

"This education involves brief video tutorials delivered by local healthcare professionals addressing the most common concerns of parents with newborn babies. A number of these videos were made in our hospital with our specialists.

"Our staff were delighted, along with their colleagues in public health nursing and community and primary care, to make videos advising new parents in critical areas like breastfeeding, nutrition, perinatal mental health, neonatal resuscitation, postnatal community support, postnatal checkup, immunisation and sepsis," Ms Gleeson noted.

For more information on the Baby Box programme, click here


[Posted: Fri 23/09/2016]

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