Shaken Baby Prevention
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a highly preventable form of child abuse which occurs when an infant or young child is violently shaken or slammed. It is usually triggered by inconsolable infant crying. An infant's neck muscles are very weak and its head is disproportionally large for its body, so when shaken, the head will violently rotate in a figure eight pattern, causing blood vessels to tear and brain damage to occur.
From 1995 to 2007, fifty-one Iowa infants died from Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). Many more survived with injuries, some of them life-altering. Immediate effects of SBS may include vomiting, seizures, breathing difficulties, lethargy, limpness or stiffness of arms and legs, and bleeding in the eye. Long-term effects may include cognitive and learning disabilities, paralysis, speech impairments, hearing loss, vision problems, and behavior disorders. In approximately 20% of cases the victim dies.
Blank Children's Hospital is participating in a pilot program aimed at reducing deaths and injuries resulting from Shaken Baby Syndrome*. Using The Period of PURPLE Crying program, we will educate new parents prior to their discharge from the Maternity Department and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This program, developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, is based on more than 25 years of research on normal infant crying. Using a child development education approach, the Period of PURPLE Crying program helps parents and caregivers understand the features of crying in normal infants that can lead to shaking or abuse. The program teaches these crying characteristics in a 10-minute DVD which will be provided for new parents to take home and share with anyone else that will be caring for their new baby. The word PURPLE is an acronym representing the prominent characteristics of inconsolable infant crying.
*The pilot project is made possible by funding through Heartland Area Education Agency and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The pilot project was developed by the Iowa Prevent SBS Team, comprised of representatives from Iowa Department of Public Health, Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, Iowa Office of Empowerment, and Blank Children's Hospital.