Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Albany Times Union: Preparing New Fathers

Today's Albany Times Union has served up a pretty good story about new fathers (Google discovered it on the San Antonio Express "Moms" website).

While issue can be taken with the claim that there's no evidence suggesting men are more likely to abuse children than women, I did like the tone of the article and the suggestion that after the standard remedies are tried, it becomes an experiment to find a solution that works (obviously not while the rage motor is running).

(Curiously, it doesn't appear to have run in the Times Union, although it discusses the SBS education program at St. Peters).

By Michael Lisi - Albany Times Union
ALBANY, N.Y. — There are many things that put fear into the hearts of first-time dads.

A crying baby who won't stop crying easily tops that list.

A colicky baby is chaos defined for a new dad, especially young dads with little or no experience with children. And it's hard to know what to do next. Should you rock the baby? Feed the baby? Change him?

When nothing works, what then?

Mix that confusion with a lack of sleep, and it's easy for bleary-eyed dads to start feeling frustrated with their little bundles of joy.

For some dads, that frustration can turn to rage.

While there is no evidence that men are any more likely than women to commit child abuse, a widely cited study from 2006 found that men (as many as 1 in 10), like women, can suffer postpartum depression. This can lead to withdrawal from the family and baby, and even to irritability and aggression.

“One of the problems for men is that often they don't have as much direct child-care experience (as women), and when put in that situation, they don't know how to deal with it,” said Dr. Rudy Nydegger, chief of psychology at a New York hospital. “There's panic, frustration, a whole range of emotions and feelings. Sometimes they get angry and lose control.”

“It's usually a time of frustration when a baby has been crying and the parents can't calm it down,” said Dr. Lisa Kamerling, a pediatrician. “They're exhausted and worried because they don't know why the baby is crying.”

That flash of rage could prove fatal to an infant if he or she is shaken or thrown. The blood vessels attached to a baby's brain and skull can become dislodged when a baby is shaken, potentially causing brain damage and permanent disabilities.

“Even a little bit of shaking can harm a baby,” said Kamerling.

Fortunately, there are many ways for new dads and moms to deflate the frustration and head off the potential of injury to an uncooperative baby.

At St. Peter's and other hospitals across New York, the first step starts before parents and baby leave. New parents are shown a video that details infant abuse and what to expect when they get home. Parents also get parenting pamphlets and are counseled by nurses, said Jon Sorensen, public relations manager for St. Peter's.

Sometimes, that isn't enough to ease a new dad who's at wits' end with a colicky baby. He's thinking of only one thing: stopping the baby from crying.

Taking a step-by-step approach is the best way to deal with the situation, Nydegger and Kamerling recommend.

Some steps are obvious: Check to see if the baby needs a new diaper, is hungry or needs to be burped. Check to see if the baby has hurt him-or herself, is too hot or too cold.

A lot of crying — sometimes up to three hours a day — is normal for some babies, Kamerling said. Of course, if something seems out of the ordinary, it's always best to let a pediatrician make that determination.

Once you've made the initial checks, it's time to get creative....

Quick resources on perpetrator characteristics

Shaken baby syndrome in Canada: clinical characteristics and ...
Shaken baby syndrome is an extremely serious form of abusive head trauma, the extent of which is .... Overall, the perpetrator was male in 72% of the cases;

Shaken Baby Syndrome: Diagnosis and Treatment
victim found that male perpetrators outnumbered ...... as a small body size, large head-to-body ratio (ie, the head. is approximately 25% of body weight),

Prevent SBS British Columbia - SBS - Shaken Baby Syndrome
This outnumbers females by a 2.2 to 1 ratio (Starling et al 1995). The four largest groups of SBS perpetrators are: • biological fathers 37% - 47%

[PPT] Nevada Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention
Feb 15, 2008 Who ARE The Perpetrators? No Social or Economic boundaries

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