BOSTON — A new program to reduce the possibility of SIDS is being launched at a Massachusetts hospital.
The “baby boxes” have been used for years in Finland and a New Jersey hospital is hoping to have had success with them after a recent launch of the program. The simple cardboard boxes, which hospitals send newborns home in, are credited with helping to reduce the rate of sudden infant death syndrome.
Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, and figures from the Baby Box Company show they can reduce SIDS deaths from 65 children for every 1,000 births to three deaths per 1,000 births.
Despite the dramatic success, the boxes aren’t standard issue in Massachusetts.
"The box is a beautiful symbol... and that's why it’s become so popular,” said Dr. Nicole Randazzo-Ahren, the director of Nursery at Mass General Hospital For Children.
Winchester Hospital and an organization in the Berkshires are launching the program, according to the Department of Public Health, but none of the major hospitals in Boston have.
Dr. Randazzo-Ahren said that education is the real key, and not simply the box. She says in part SIDS remains a mystery, but doctors have identified several risk factors: smoking in the home, co-sleeping, and putting a baby to sleep on their stomach are among them.
“We also know that sleeping in the same room as your baby decreases the risk,” she said.
Dr. Randazzo-Ahren also said the baby boxes are an easy way to keep baby close. The MGH bassinets where newborns are kept while at the hospital are designed similarly to the baby boxes, with a thin mattress and no bumpers.
The Department of Public Health said that Massachusetts’ infant mortality rate is the lowest in the country.