Oh Baby: Shaken Baby Syndrome - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: Shaken Baby Syndrome

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by Sunny Layne

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- Tragically, 2,000 babies in the country die each year because of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

This last spring, Governor Chet Culver signed a law requiring the State Health Department to start an initiative preventing this needless suffering. KWWL anchor and new mom Sunny Layne gives us an inside look at the program.

Having worked for 28 years at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse Denise Easley understands how fragile babies are.

"Their head makes them top-heavy," Easley said. "Especially babies that are six months old, necks are very weak and heads are heavy."

After coming across babies who have been shaken by their parents or caretakers, Easley passionately sought to prevent the needless tragedy.

"It's a condition that's 100 percent preventable. Babies should not die ever."

Easley said from 1997 to 2006, Iowa has lost 49 babies to Shaken Baby Syndrome, with many more living with lifelong injuries such as blindness and learning disabilities.

That's why Easley is helping initiate an education program for parents of newborns called the Period of Purple Crying.

"Crying is the number one trigger for shaken baby," she said. "Inconsolable crying. Parents will just snap because the baby is just uncontrollably crying."

St. Luke's was the first hospital to instate the program, which requires parents to watch this DVD, and then take home a copy.

Purple is an acronym that explains: crying hits a peak around two months of age, it can be unexpected, resistant to soothing, appears painful, lasts a long time, up to several hours, and often happens in the evening.

It also gives parents a coping strategy. It tells parents to increase carrying and comforting the baby.

"It [also] gives them permission that it's ok to put their baby down in a crib and take a breath and become relaxed and call for help if need be. And not to shake the baby, not to do anything to the baby," Easley said.

By educating parents about children's crying patterns, Easley believes fewer children will suffer or die, and more will receive what they deserve: a gentle start.

St Luke's was the first hospital to instate the program. The cost of these DVDs is two dollars, which equals about $80 thousand each year.

The price pales in comparison to the price of a child with Shaken Baby Syndrome, whose medical expenses can add up to one million dollars over the years. To learn more, click here.

Reporter: Sunny Layne

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