2017-06-28 / Political Page

Simotas Announces Passage Of Baby Box Bill

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas announced that the NYS Assembly passed her bill to establish the “Newborn Health and Safety Pilot Program,” also known as the “Baby Box Bill” (A6044). The goal of the legislation is to reduce infant mortality in New York by having the state Health Department distribute a safe, portable sleep space – literally baby boxes – for infants six months and younger, in areas of the state with the greatest infant mortality rates.

“This is a low-tech, inexpensive, yet highly effective way to save babies’ lives,” said the Assemblywoman.

The baby boxes and similar apparatuses are meant to discourage high-risk behaviors on the part of parents that are associated with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). They are designed according to the safe infant sleep guidelines of the Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Each baby box has a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.

The boxes will provide essential baby care items, and educational information for new parents on the dangers of co-sleeping and the risks when blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and loose bedding is used with sleeping infants. Many parents of newborns have no idea that these seemingly innocent items put a sleeping baby at risk.

“We cannot ignore the reality for some new families where sleep deprivation and exhaustion, coupled with lack of money to afford a crib, means their babies are put to sleep in risky ways,” Simotas said.

The use of baby boxes began in Finland in the 1930s and has recently gained new attention, with baby box projects underway in South Africa, South Asia, London, Canada, Australia, San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Most recently, New Jersey received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and it is the first state to offer baby boxes to all parents.

The bill specifies that the state Health Department will monitor the program and within one year provide a report to the legislature on the program’s effectiveness.

“The baby box bill advances our state’s commitment to support healthy parenting and reduce health disparities across different demographic groups,” Simotas said.

Simotas noted that in 2015, the state adopted her legislation to designate pregnancy as a “qualifying life event” for the purposes of health insurance enrollment, which now guarantees access to vital prenatal care.

The baby box bill passed the Assembly on June 20, and also passed the New York State Senate, where it was sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon of Nassau County. The bill will now be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

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