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Program educates all new parents to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome
April is national Child Abuse Awareness Month. Beginning April 1, parents of every baby born at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital will be shown a 10-minute DVD called “The Period of PURPLE Crying” (see acronym below), presented by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. The program teaches parents about the dangers of shaking a baby and offers them coping strategies for when they’re frustrated.
By promoting early parent education, the goal is to prevent occurrences of abuse.
The push for a proactive educational campaign began after six children died as a result of abuse in Pierce County in 2008.
“These children were murdered by trusted caretakers,” said Amy Scanlon of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County. “The homicides had a profound impact on our community, including those responsible for investigating, treating and prosecuting child abuse. In response to the homicides, we started taking additional, proactive steps toward preventing child abuse. Implementing a hospital-based prevention program was the ultimate goal.”
In the past three years, 75 children were seriously injured as a result of abuse in Pierce County, such as the 8-week-old boy with a skull fracture who “may have been” kicked with the steel-toed boot of his father. In all, eight have died.
“Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital is the lead agency for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County, and we saw a rise in the number of infant deaths and infant injuries that we were treating and investigating due to abusive head trauma and shaking,” said Mary Quinlan, director of Mary Bridge Community Services. “I think there’s an educational need for new parents that crying is a normal developmental process for infants, and sometimes babies will cry for a prolonged period of time, which can be frustrating for parents. Through education, we can help parents develop a better understanding and a coping strategy.”
“MultiCare Health System is in a unique position because we have a Women & Newborn Center at Tacoma General, as well as follow-up care for children in our community through Mary Bridge,” Quinlan said. “So we were able to see the trends after discharge, and engage in this partnership.”
The video features segments such as “Why shaking a baby is dangerous” and “Consequences of shaking a baby.” The video also shares the stories from parents whose children died as a result of being shaken.
Additionally, volunteers are also donating hand-made purple hats to send home with babies born at Tacoma General to help remind parents to keep their baby safe.
The word PURPLE in the title of the video is an acronym for:
Peak of crying: Your baby may cry more each week. The most at 2 months, then less at 3-5 months.
Unexpected: Crying can come and go and you don’t know why.
Resists soothing: Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try.
Pain-like face: A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.
Long lasting: Crying can last as much as 5 hours a day or more.
Evening: Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening.
The video offers three action steps for parents:
1. Increase carry, comfort, walk and talk.
2. It’s OK to walk away if you first place your baby in a safe place, such as a crib.
3. Never shake or hurt your baby.
The information in the video is based on more than 25 years of research on infant crying and normal infant development conducted by Dr. Ronald G. Barr and other scientists. The Period of Purple Crying concept was developed by Barr, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C.
To learn more about the Period of Purple Crying program, go to www.purplecrying.org.
Posted on Apr 5, 2011 in