By Anne Szmul, National News Editor
Last week, New Jersey became the first state in the country to introduce a universal baby box program. According to CNN, the boxes will contain other essentials worth about $150 for new parents free of charge. The program is similar to one in Finland that has existed there since the 1930s.
The aim of the sturdy boxes is to reduce infant mortality rates and the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The boxes remain effective as a crib until the child is old enough to lift his or her head, around six months of age.
New Jersey’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board partnered with The Baby Box Co, a California based company using a grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After 2017, the program may be continued based on its success. It is projected to distribute around 105,000 boxes throughout New Jersey, enough for the projected number of births in the state.
According to the CDC website, about 3,500 children under the age of one die per year with “no immediately obvious cause.” Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is one of the leading types of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID), taking the lives of about 1,500 infants in 2014. According to New Jersey State Health Assessment Data, SIDS is the third leading cause of infant death in the state. Since the introduction of public health efforts, mortality rates have declined by 50%, and continue to decline on average throughout the country.
The Baby Box Co. introduced its first city-wide program in San Francisco in November according to CNN. For parents outside the Garden State or San Francisco, what started as a “’baby shower in a box’” can be purchased.
Parents of infants younger than three months can also take advantage of the new service and claim their supplies. After completing an informational program online at babyboxuniversity.com, parents can claim their box.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 7th print edition.
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