Local News

Parents to be Educated on Dangers of Shaking Babies

Posted January 15, 2008

— Parents of newborns would receive more education about the dangers of shaking infants as part of a $7 million program being conducted by medical researchers at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

The project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Duke Endowment, is the largest and most comprehensive effort to address the hundreds of injuries and deaths that occur annually when crying babies are violently shaken by frustrated parents and caregivers, officials said Tuesday.

Nationally, an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 children a year receive medical treatment after being shaken. An estimated 25 percent of these children die and 80 percent of survivors are left with some form of life-long brain injury.

"As a pediatrician and a long-standing member of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force, I know how devastating shaking a baby can be to the infant and to the family," said state Sen. William Purcell, a retired pediatrician from Laurinburg who has been involved with shaken-baby prevention efforts for more than 10 years.

"This project will share very important information that all parents can use about normal infant crying and how to manage that crying safely," Purcell said.

Preliminary, unadjusted data from a baseline survey shows that almost one in 100 parents of North Carolina children under age 2 reported that they or their partner has shaken a child. Also, 1.3 percent of mothers in the survey reported having seen somebody other than their partner shake a child under 2 within the last year.

Desmond Runyan, a professor of social medicine and pediatrics at UNC and principal investigator for the project, said a small number of the more than 2,000 children shaken each year in the state receive medical attention. Only 40 are admitted to a hospital intensive care unit, for example, he said.

"A lot more children are shaken who are not hospitalized but may have mental retardation or learning disabilities later. This shows the need for, and potential benefits of, preventing shaking," Runyan said.

The prevention project plans to provide every parent of the approximately 125,000 babies born in North Carolina annually with an intervention program called "The Period of PURPLE Crying," which helps describe the characteristics of crying in healthy infants.The program was developed by Dr. Ron Barr, a professor of community child health research and a developmental pediatrician at the University of British Columbia, and Marilyn Barr, founder and executive director of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The program includes hospital and health care provider-based parent education, a 10-minute video and an 11-page booklet that parents can share with other caregivers of their baby, such as family members and babysitters. The materials are designed to educate parents and caregivers about the hazards of shaking and gives them alternatives to use when they feel they need a respite from a crying baby, such as handing off the baby to another caregiver or going to another room while leaving the baby in its crib with the rails up for periods of no longer than 15 minutes.

"Our goal with this program is to protect those most vulnerable in our community by increasing awareness, especially among new parents, about proper childcare and the dangers of shaking," said Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Center for Child and Family Health and an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke. "We hope these efforts will protect the long-term health and well-being of our newest generation."


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  • baracus Jan 16, 2008

    I heard an interview with one of the people involved with developing this program and he explained that some people get the mistaken impression that shaking is ok because they tried it once in desperation and the baby stopped crying - because it had a concussion.

    Say what you want about responsible folks with common sense would know better, if you didn't know this already you shouldn't have kids, blah, blah, blab... that doesn't change the fact that it is happening and kids are suffering a lifetime for it. Perhaps we should give this a chance before saying it won't work.

  • Space Mountain Jan 15, 2008


  • elsuds68 Jan 15, 2008

    We allow the murdering of children through abortion and then wonder why parents abuse and/or kill their children after they are born. You set the example of no respect for life by allowing abortions and then scratch you heads in disbelief when killings take place. You are reaping what you have sown and no amount of money is going to make that go away.

  • rpd911 Jan 15, 2008

    Here is the solution and I would like for them to give me the 7 mil and just post this everywhere.....DON'T SHAKE YOUR STUPID BABY STUPID!. Also, if these people they call parents would stop having children to have them and start having children for the right reasons this wouldn't happen. Too many people are getting married too soon or not at all and getting pregnant. This then leads to the "single mother" who shouldn't have gotten married or pregnant in the first place. On second thought, lets enact a new policy or law...MANDATORY BIRTH CONTROL FOR ALL. People would have to apply to have children and when they could prove they were "stable" (income, psychologically), THEN and only then would they be granted a permit to have a baby. There, now if you really want the truth, we should implant every baby with an info/locator chip that when old enough it secretes birth control. When they were 18 the locator was turned off. No more room for comment.

  • OpenM1nd Jan 15, 2008

    "Parents of newborns would receive more education about the dangers of shaking infants as part of a $7 million program being conducted by medical researchers at the University of North Carolina and Duke University."

    A more comprehensive program on responsible parenthood, child abuse, and/or anger management would be well worth the money, if the end result were safer and healthier children and more intelligent and patient parents.

    But to anyone who ever said that they didn't know that they could seriously injure a baby by shaking it, I have just one thing to say, "Hello?"

  • Weetie Jan 15, 2008

    wcnc - I agree. You had common sense and love for your children. What has happened to that today? Why do mothers and dad abuse or kill their children.

    I too dealt with a very sick crying baby for the first 6 weeks of his life - until he had surgery. I was 20 years old at the time. Today, he is a very strong, heathly and well educated man that I am so proud of. I never had parenting classes - I had common sense and a love for my son that nothing except the love of God could even come close to. You are right...they shouldn't be allowed to keep the children that they want to abuse.

    It is very sad when so many times, it's too late for DSS to intervene or parenting classes. If anything can save ONE child's life...it is well worth the effort.

  • Weetie Jan 15, 2008

    ooops...I meant "much" - sorry for the typo

  • rpdwife05 Jan 15, 2008

    Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing that this is provided... but.... Do people really not know that it is NOT OK to shake a baby?!?!?!?!

  • Weetie Jan 15, 2008

    Of course no one with good sense would shake a baby. Think about it, today there are so many people - and forgive me for saying so - but mostly YOUNG people - (yes I said it!) that do not have good comon sense. If they did, there wouldn't be as mcuh crime in the world and our jails and prisons would have alot more room.

    I still agree with parenting classes...sorry!

  • whatevah Jan 15, 2008

    common sense ought to tell parents that they shouldnt shake a baby. If you have to be educated about that, you dont need to be parents.