Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The benefits of putting babies in boxes

New mothers in Scotland will be offered a box containing nappies, clothes, toys and a built-in mattress. The idea is based on a long running scheme in Finland which has significantly cut the infant mortality rate. So why is the Finnish infant mortality rate significantly lower than ours?

The big post war improvements in their statistics came after all new mothers, rather than just the poorest, received a box containing baby clothes, various baby goodies and a mattress which, placed in the box, makes the baby's first bed. The improvement, no doubt not just due to the boxes, was startling. From around 60 deaths per 1,000 births at the end of the 2nd world war, the rate had fallen to about 45 by 1949, when the use of the boxes was extended to all mothers. This coincided with an almost vertical line on the graph from 45 to 35, after which it fell steadily to about 13 by 1970 and 3.4 now. Our rate is around 4.5, about 30% higher.

The Scottish boxes will cost about £100 each. Apparently lots of other countries are following Finland. Experts say the main benefit is providing the baby with somewhere to sleep other than the parents' bed, thereby reducing the number of deaths linked to suffocation.

Infant mortality tatistics on just about every country can be found at

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