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Michiana health org starts 'baby box' program to tackle infant mortality

Community Wellness Partners of St. Joseph County is providing safe sleep alternatives to keep newborns safe.

It's a new safe sleep program, at no cost for families. The Community Wellness Partners organization will be educating new mothers through Finland's baby box curriculum. This baby box will serve as a starter kit for newborns. The boxes are safe for a baby to sleep in, and also come with clothes, diapers and other necessities. The program helped Finland's infant mortality rate become one of the lowest in the world. CWP hopes to do the same for Michiana.

"It's come to the US and it's an alternative to unsafe sleep practices," said Kelli Brien, maternal child health coordinator. "We are trying to make sure that every home has a safe sleep alternative and we are lowering that infant mortality rate."

The program is funded by grant money CWP received in December 2016.

It's a response to high infant mortality rates in St. Joseph, LaPorte, Elkhart, and Marshall counties. And the latest research shows communities of color have the highest rate of infant deaths. For black people, it's more than double the rate of the state average. And according to the Indiana State Department of health, 60 of the 91 black infants that died were right here in St. Joseph County. 

Families in need throughout the region can be a part of this baby box program free of charge. The roll out is March 17. 

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