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Alabama Joins States That Give 'Baby Boxes' to New Parents to Prevent SIDS

Mar 27, 2017 11:44 AM EDT

Alabama joins the short list of states that gives away a so-called "baby box" to all new parents in an effort to promote safe sleep and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

"We are excited to be one of the first states to offer this program statewide to provide families with the tools and education to give their babies a healthy start in life," said Ron Sparks, Director of Alabama Rural Development Office, in a statement. "The ultimate goal of the program is to save babies' lives."

The new program was done in partnership between Baby Box Co., the same company that spearheaded similar programs in Ohio and New Jersey, and the Alabama Rural Development Office.

The so-called baby box is actually a cardboard box that can be used as bassinet or sleeping space. The box comes with firm mattress, fitted sheet, onesies, diapers, wipes and breastfeeding supplies.

According to the report from National Public Radio, parents who want to receive a baby box must first watch online videos about SIDS and safe sleep, the complete a short test. Qualified parents can choose to pick up their baby boxes at distribution sites or arrange a home delivery.

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With the help of Baby Box Co., Alabama plans to 60,000 boxes, while Ohio and New Jersey will distribute 140,000 and 105,000 boxes, respectfully. The boxes can be used for the first six months of life. The risk of SIDS is highest between two and four months.

SIDS is considered to be one of the leading causes of infant deaths. In the United States, there are about 3,500 unexpected infant deaths in a year.

The baby box project was first implemented in Finland about 80 years ago, during the time when nearly one out of every 10 children in the country die before reaching the age of one. As of now, Finland has the lowest infant mortality rates in the world with 1.3 out of 1,000 children in 2013.

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