North mid hospital tackles cot deaths in Enfield with 'baby box' scheme

By Priya Kingsley-Adam in Local People

A PIONEERING project aimed at reducing the number of cot deaths in the borough has been launched by an Edmonton hospital.

Enfield has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in London, prompting North Middlesex University hospital, in Sterling way, to launch the Baby Box scheme on Tuesday, an idea which has proved to be effective in Finland.

A total of 5.8 per 1,000 babies died before the age of 1 every year between 2010 and 2012 across the borough, compared to London’s average of 4.1 per 1,000.

Neighbouring Barnet had a lower rate during the same time period of 3 infant mortalities per 1,000.

Parents will be given a special durable cardboard box for their babies to sleep in to provide them with a safe sleeping environment.

Health professionals hope they will prevent parents from sharing their beds with their babies, because infants can get overheated as a result.

The box serves as a bed until the baby is six to eight months old. The design is also believed to prevent suffocation because babies are not able to roll onto their stomachs.

The idea originates from Finland, where the boxes have helped to reduce the number of so-called cot deaths from 65 per 1,000 in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 in 2015.

Michelle Lynch, bereavement midwife at North Middlesex hospital, introduced the program at the hospital.

She said: “I heard about the idea and thought it sounded really interesting so I spoke to one of my colleagues who is a midwife and said we should look into it.

“Enfield’s infant mortality rate is double the UK’s and although they are small numbers, a baby is the most precious gift a family can have,” Ms Lynch added.

Jennifer Clary and Kevin Haberer, who are the founders of the Baby Box company in America, adapted the idea and have teamed up with NHS England to provide the boxes for free.

Prior to giving birth, parents are also educated on issues before and after birth, including how to detect signs of problems during pregnancy and noticing patterns in fetal movement.

Online resources such as health advice is available in different languages at the Baby Box University website where parents can ask professionals questions by tweeting or emailing.

Kirsty Da-Costa, 27, from Winchmore Hill, will be one of the first mothers at North Middlesex hospital to use the box after giving birth to her son, Jason, a week ago.

“I’m looking forward to trying the baby box” she said “one of the midwives told me about it and I thought it sounded really interesting.”

The box comes with a waterproof mattress and includes nappies, breast pads, baby grow suit and shampoo.

North Middlesex will be the second hospital in the UK to provide the boxes after they were first introduced at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital.

Jay Hemingway, manager for UK Baby Box company said: “The idea is that every child has the same start in life and we want the boxes to be in every NHS hospital by this time next year.”

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