Dubuque mom: there is hope after shaken baby syndrome - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque mom: there is hope after shaken baby syndrome

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Shaken Baby Syndrome is a devastating public health issue that several eastern Iowa families have faced in the past couple of years.

Last September, two-month-old daughter Starlynn Thomas suffered sever head injuries as a result of being shaken by her biological father, Christopher Bell. Bell was sentences to three months in jail.

With the help of therapy, Starlynn is making significant physical and cognitive progress. She meets weekly with a physical therapist and speech pathologist in Dubuque. Nikiesha Thomas is Starlynn's mom. She said although her daughter has made progress there is still more work to be done.

"When the doors are closed there are a lot of problems, sometimes I wish people could see what we go through because it's not easy," said Thomas.

Thomas said she will not know the full extent of her daughter's trauma for years.

"In the last month we have found out some other problems that we didn't even know were around when she was a baby," said Thomas.

"They're teaching her sign language as well as words because they're not sure exactly if she is going to be saying a lot of words," said Starlynn's grandmother, Sally Lang.

On Saturday, friends and family gathered in McAleece Park to release balloons in honor of the two years anniversary of Starlynn's incident and others facing shaken baby syndrome. Thomas said she hopes the balloon release reminds families that they are not alone and there is hope.

"They do have our support. If we're not their voice then nobody will be," said Thomas.

Health experts say in approximately one out of every four cases of shaken baby syndrome, the child dies. Babies four months old and younger are at highest risk, since that's the developmental stage during which babies cry a lot. Crying is the leading reason a caretaker shakes a child.

Experts say anybody getting overwhelmed caring for a child should immediately contact a neighbor or a friend for help. Don't let frustration lead to shaken baby syndrome, they say.

For more information on the condition, check out data from the Centers for Disease Control or from the National Center on Shaking Baby Syndrome.

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