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Aurora Lakeland Medical Center Partners with Walworth County on Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Elkhorn, Wis. -- As any new parent can attest to, the first few weeks of parenthood can run the gamut from excitement and joy to stress, fatigue and exhaustion. April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Aurora Lakeland Medical Center and Walworth County Health and Human Services are teaming up to raise awareness about Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Shaken Baby Syndrome materialsAccording to estimates from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, an estimated 1,300 infants are hospitalized or die from shaken baby syndrome in the United States. One in four babies will die as a result of their injuries, and among those who survive, approximately 80 percent will suffer brain injury, blindness and deafness, fractures, paralysis, cognitive and learning disabilities, or cerebral palsy.

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin treated 28 cases of shaken baby syndrome in 2008. Statistics from Walworth County Health and Human Services show that Walworth County recorded six cases of shaken baby syndrome between October 2007-January 2009.

In response, Aurora Lakeland Medical Center is partnering with Walworth County Health and Human Services to provide information and education to address this trend. Beginning May 1, 2009, all families who deliver a child at Aurora Lakeland Medical Center will receive information developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome called "The Period of Purple Crying." The educational materials, which include a DVD and brochure, were made possible by funds donated by Aurora Lakeland Medical Center employees.

"We currently talk to parents regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome and give them a handout, but we didn't feel this was sufficient education,'' said Dawn Haxton, registered nurse and manager of women and infant care services, Aurora Lakeland Medical Center. "The program helps parents and caregivers understand the features of crying in normal infants that are frustrating which can lead to shaking or abuse.''

Haxton said if parents better understand this normal early crying period, they are less likely to feel stressed to the point where they shake their baby out of frustration or anger.

"More importantly, it reassures parents that crying is normal,'' she added.

Deborah McDaniel, social worker, Walworth County Health and Human Services, said the number of shaken baby cases in Walworth County is disturbing and added that it can occur in any family, regardless of income or education levels. She said the difficult economy is one of the primary factors driving these cases in Walworth County.

"Job losses and concerns about the economy add another level of stress to new families who may be struggling,'' she said. "What we hope to do is provide these parents with the information and education they need to cope. There is no reason for shaking a baby. Six cases are six cases too many.''

Walworth County Health and Human Services has a crisis line available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for families experiencing the stress of a crying infant. That number is 262-741-3200.

Kristin Schultz, public health nurse, Walworth County, said "The Period of Purple Crying," which is also available in Spanish, is approved by pediatricians, public health nurses, child development experts and parents. It also provides suggestions for what to do for inconsolable crying.

"Recent studies in the United States and Canada concluded that the educational materials in this program helped increase the knowledge base of new mothers and other caregivers about infant crying, the most common trigger for shaken baby syndrome,'' said Schultz. "We are grateful for the hospital's support on this, and look forward to working together to help new parents develop the skills necessary for managing these episodes.''

Haxton said the program will be distributed to all Aurora Health Centers in Walworth County and the hospital's childbirth educators will also include information about the program in their sessions.

To learn more about "The Period of Purple Crying,'' program, log onto For additional information, please contact Walworth County Health and Human Services at 262-741-3140.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers services at sites in 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Andy Johnson

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