September 19, 2011

The numbers are sad. From 1999 to 2005, 13 of the 23 child homicides in West Virginia were from shaking.

According to research by James McJunkin, MD, the West Virginia incidence of shaken baby syndrome is 24 per 100,000 children. 

The number one trigger for shaking is something that every baby does - cry.

CAMC Women and Children's Hospital, along with three other hospitals in the state, is piloting a prevention project against shaken baby syndrome.

The Period of PURPLE Crying is an evidence-based program, implemented July 1, that teaches parents about the normal patterns of crying in babies (traditionally referred to as colic), and the dangers of shaking.

The parents view an 11 minute DVD while in the hospital and are given a copy of the DVD and book to take home. The materials explain what "PURPLE" stands for (Peak crying, Unpredictable, Resistant to soothing, Pain like faces, Long bouts, Evening occurrence).

"The parental education is called Dose I," explained Joan Phillips, MD. "Dose II is reinforcement of the message at the primary care provider's office or from in home educators like Right From the Start. Dose III is a public education campaign using programs such as Babies Safe and Sound to spread the word."

By doing the project at CAMC Women and Children's, Cabell Huntington, Ruby and Davis Memorial hospitals, about 7,500 of the state's 20,000 births will be impacted.

"The program seems to be going well so far," said Sharon Istfan, MD. "Along with the DVDs, nurses in the newborn nursery have been instrumental in educating the mothers and are enthusiastic about the program."

Dr. Istfan is also teaching pediatric residents and medical students the training and research. Once piloted, the group hopes to expand the program to all 22 delivering hospitals in West Virginia.

Similar process projects in New York decreased shaken baby syndrome by 46 percent over five years.

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