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New Hospital Video: Crying Doesn’t Kill Babies; Abusive Head Trauma Does

 

It’s a crying shame. Jordan Wesson’s little boy was only four-and-a-half months-old when she discovered he’d been hurt. Blinded as a result of brain damage, “He has no idea what happened to him when he was a baby,” she said.

At the hospital Wesson learned that her son had suffered abusive head trauma, formerly known as shaken baby syndrome.  She now shares her heartbreaking story, along with three other parents, in a new video entitled The Crying Baby Plan: Preventing Abusive Head Trauma, from Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs. (Be sure to check the links for both English and Spanish versions at the end of this story.)

“It takes a lot less for a child’s brain to be injured,” said Sally Duncan, R.N., trauma and injury prevention specialist at Memorial Health System. “What we’re finding is that they’re not only shaken, they’re thrown, where their head takes a blow. Abusive head trauma takes in both.”

According to CDC information, abusive head trauma is the leading cause of child abuse death in the United States, affecting as many as three to four children every day. Triggered primarily by inconsolable crying, these injuries result not only from shaking, but from hitting and throwing – and are entirely preventable.

Sgt. Hugh Velasquez of the Colorado Springs Police Dept. Crimes Against Children Unit said he typically sees a brain bleed when he’s called to the hospital, “Some kind of internal injury.” But in these cases, he said, “The story doesn’t match the injury.”

When a baby cries and cries for no apparent reason – a normal stage of development for infants under four months – it can trigger a violent response in an unprepared and stressed-out parent or caregiver, said Duncan. According to the CDC, the most frequent perpetrators are biological fathers, stepfathers, and mothers’ boyfriends, followed by mothers.

If you leave your baby with anyone, even a family member, this video is a must see. I recommend sitting down to watch it with the entire family, and again with the babysitter or caregiver. It could mean the difference between a healthy, happy life for your child and a debilitating or fatal injury.

Brian Moore was serving in Iraq when he received a phone call. His daughter, about to turn two, was in the hospital. Left at home with a caregiver, “She was shaken so badly, she was not able to see, hear, or anything—she was brain dead,” a pensive Moore said in the video. The little girl died as a result of abusive head trauma.

“Knock on wood, things have been better recently,” Velasquez said.

The Crying Baby Plan is now required viewing for all new parents before they leave Memorial Health System. “I hope it becomes the standard at all hospitals,” Duncan said.

Velasquez credits a large portion of the improved numbers to the video, an older version of which has been in use at Memorial Hospital since 2009.

Between 2008 and 2009, five deaths occurred due to abusive head trauma in Colorado Springs, said Duncan. In 2009-10, that number dropped to one. “We can’t draw complete conclusions, but indications are that something is going right. Community education on this subject has made a big difference.”

The Crying Baby Plan is simple:

  • Make sure he/she is fed and dry.
  • Wrap him/her gently.
  • Pick the baby up and gently rub his/her back.
  • Try singing to the baby or gently rocking.
  • Offer a pacifier.
  • Take him/her for walk in the stroller or for a ride in a safely secured car seat.
  • Call someone on the phone for support, and if the baby still won’t stop crying, put him/her down in a safe place and take a break.
  • Check on the baby about every five to ten minutes.

“I would be tickled pink if there were no more work for my unit,” said Velasquez. One way to help achieve that goal is for parents to learn how to comfort a baby and deal with stress before the birth, especially young parents who may not have as many coping skills, he said.

“Children don’t cry themselves to death,” says Paul Grabb, M.D., director of pediatric neurology at Memorial Health System. “If they’re fed and dry, let them cry.”

To view the video click on the following links for either English or Spanish:

www.bsphd.com/downloads/MemorialAHTenglish.wmv

www.bsphd.com/downloads/MemorialAHTspanish.wmv

Additional resources: Learn more about the period called PURPLE Crying – inconsolable crying during an infant’s first four months – at www.purplecrying.info; also, the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome: www.dontshake.org; the Association of American Pediatrics: www.aap.org.  For symptoms of abusive head trauma (shaken baby syndrome),  plus tips for reporting, visit http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/sbs.html

Read Jenny Kung’s latest Chinese Boat Wisdom: The Water-Cart Incident – only at Family Field Guide!

Eight Great Stay-at-Home Dates for After the Kids Are In Bed!

Ever backed out of a date with your own husband? All day you look forward to going out, but twenty minutes before the movie starts you realize you haven’t showered since yesterday and he’s exhausted. It only takes one of you to say, “Hey, could we do this another time?” And suddenly the whole thing down the drain.

Not good, but hey, such is life. Instead of feeling disappointed, have a back-up plan. Kiss the children goodnight, silence your phones, and feel the love on one of these eight, great, stay-at-home dates. Continue reading

Confessions of a Booby Know-Nothing

At age 24, I was a disgrace to womankind. I knew absolutely nothing about breastfeeding. And couldn’t have cared less.

Far removed from the oozy, drippy world of babies – having vowed at age 16 never to have any – I believed human breasts were vestigial organs, like the appendix, which Darwin suggests may have been used to digest foliage.

Besides, being only a 32-A, I tried to ignore them. My breasts, that is. All though high school and college, the tiny mounds had done little for my sweaters, except create a couple of bunny slopes.

I can’t tell you how depressing it can be, trying on band-aid size bras in a department store fitting room. When the foundations lady asked, “How’s that one working out for you, honey?” I wanted to cry.

The bras were all so…pointy, as though custom-made for Nurse Diesel, the crazy nurse from High Anxiety.

And then –  without ever having witnessed a baby at the breast, or having read anything in my biology books about breastfeeding (at least not in humans), and certainly never having been lectured by a single female family member about the value of mother’s milk – I got pregnant.

Before long – and quite out of the blue – my husband hit me a question. “How are you going to feed the baby?”

I was stunned. I couldn’t think. “Bottles,” I told him. “That’s what my mother used.”

After all, hadn’t women evolved? Didn’t we have Ms. magazine?

Blessed with preternatural patience, my husband calmly told me that his mother had breastfed all three children. Him for nine months – and then he suggested I visit the public  library. The library!

Resentment nibbled away at my ego. It was clear my husband knew more about breastfeeding than I did.  Meg nursing

But then, my mother had breastfed only one of her six children. Me. For a total of four weeks. Still, I couldn’t accept the fact that I knew zip, nil, nada, about breastfeeding. Continue reading

Hungry Mom Kitchen: Gluten-Free Scones

This morning I woke to a groggy, grey sky. I needed a sign of spring, at least something deliciously warm to enjoy with a cup of coffee. Mmmm, SCONES!

The idea began to take shape as I clattered around the kitchen, fiddling with an old-fashioned recipe. The result was an oat scone that is gluten-free and positively delicious.

I’m proving to myself that it isn’t necessary to buy expensive pre-made gluten-free products in the store. It only takes a little messin’ around in the kitchen.  Continue reading

Welcome to the Hungry Mom Kitchen!

Moms are always cooking with kids in mind, or making their husbands’ favorite dish. But I like to make things that will keep my battery charged, something super healthy that gives me that “ahhhh” feeling. After all, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

So every now and then I’m going to post the “goings on” in my kitchen. Please try the recipes and let me know what you think!

Here’s my healthy indulgence from last night: Greek yogurt dip (very easy to whip up with 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, a few squirts of Bragg Liquid Aminos and diced onion and garlic. I also added a wee dash of horse radish for some zing. For dipping I sliced a few carrots and celery sticks and broke apart some cauliflower flowerettes. Continue reading