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Niswonger Children's Hospital working to lower infant mortality rate

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn - According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 25% of infant deaths in the state are due to unsafe sleeping arrangements.

Now, Niswonger Children's Hospital is introducing a new initiative to reduce the number of infant deaths in our region.

All Mountain States Health Alliance birthing locations are now offering free Baby Boxes to all newborns.

A Baby Box is a safe space for your baby to sleep to prevent suffocation and other risks.

"The box comes with a tight fitted mattress and a cotton cover, and you get a little bag with diapers and lotion and other baby care products," explained Heidi Dulebohn, the Director of Community Engagements.

The Baby Box is fashioned after a similar device used for decades in Finland.

That device is credited with helping Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.

If you accept the offer of a a free Baby Box, you must join Baby Box University, which provides a free health education online.

New moms accepting the boxes are excited about them.

"Babies are our future, and the safest thing we can do for them is provide a safe place for them to sleep," said new mom Olivia Livesay. "I am excited my son is going to have an opportunity to use the box."

The boxes are now available for all future newborns.

Mountain States is the first healthcare system in the state of Tennessee and the Southwest Virginia region to offer the Baby Box program.

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