'Let’s start from a point of celebration: “You’ve had a baby, congratulations!” I think if we just start at that point, it’s such a positive strategy…’ Gill Perks, lead midwife at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, London, was one of many people at the launch of the UK’s first Baby Box programme to speak so enthusiastically of the initiative.
The Baby Box idea originated in Finland where, since the 1930s, the state has provided pregnant women with a ‘starter kit’—a box containing various items that they will need when their baby is born. The box itself contains a hard mattress, and serves as the baby’s first bed; this aspect of the programme has been credited with reducing Finland’s infant mortality rate from 65 per 1000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1000 births in 2015.1
The UK currently has among the highest rates of infant mortality in Europe, ranking 22/50 European countries with 4.19 deaths per 1000 births.1 Dr Karen Joash, consultant obstetrician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, who is leading the Baby Box trial, said that the reduction in infant mortality seen in Finland ‘is something that we can bring to the UK’.
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