Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Baby boxes no substitute for free universal healthcare

American health authorities, including New Jersey, Ohio, Alabama and many others, are latching onto the idea of giving new mothers a Finnish-style baby box.
It seems that they have read somewhere that such boxes - filled with baby clothes, diapers, nursing pads and a snug soft mattress - have been given to all new mothers in Finland for many years now, and Finland happens to have one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world (1.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, less than a third of that in the USA).
But it's a bizarre idea that somehow the box itself is part of making a baby's life safer. There is clearly nothing medically efficacious about cardboard, and the Finnish health authority itself notes that the boxes themselves do not contribute to their enviable infant mortality record: "Our low infant-morality rate is due to free-of-charge high-quality maternal and child health-care services and child-care guidance." Apparently, only about 37% of Finnish mothers use the boxes as a crib/bassinet anyway.
Add to that the fact that the American boxes have not been fully safety-tested, and the whole scheme starts to look like an ill-advised exercise in wish-fulfillment than a convincing and well-researched health initiative.
Now, when the USA gets free universal healthcare, then we might be getting somewhere.

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