Thursday, April 02, 2009

Prevention: A Tale of Two States - Iowa and Nebraska

The Omaha World Herald has an interesting story about SBS prevention efforts in Iowa and Nebraska. It opens by telling the story of Madison DeYoung...

Both states have adopted education laws, but Nebraska also provided an appropriation for prevention efforts. Iowa didn't, and is relying on efforts by private groups, such as the Shaken Baby Task Force at Jenny Edmonson Hospital in Council Bluffs and Prevent Child Abuse Iowa...

Madison's death, like the deaths and injuries of all shaken babies, could have been prevented if DeYoung had put Madison down and walked away, said Armstrong, a registered nurse and coordinator of the Council Bluffs-based Shaken Baby Task Force.

That message needs to reach more parents and caregivers, according to the Iowa Legislature, which asked the Iowa Department of Public Health to develop a shaken baby education program this year.

Child advocates hailed the new law, signed by Gov. Chet Culver last month. But the law was passed without funding, so state health workers don't know when it will come to fruition.

A similar law was passed in Nebraska in 2006. But that one came with an appropriation, allowing Nebraska health officials to implement a program.

Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services has developed a program that includes a video on shaken baby syndrome, [Link] which is available on the department's Web site as well as in hospitals. Eventually, the Nebraska agency plans to make shaken baby education a requirement for licensed child care providers.

In Iowa, state health officials plan to work with several groups, including Prevent Child Abuse Iowa and Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, to develop a program that would educate caregivers. For now, Iowa relies on privately funded groups such as the Shaken Baby Task Force to educate people.

Since the program's inception in 1997, Armstrong has been meeting with students and new parents through hospitals, in-home visits and lectures at schools. Education needs to be widespread, because people from all walks of life shake their babies, said Amy Wicks of the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The article has a sobering graphic: from 1995 to 2007, there were 108 homicides that involved children under 7 - nearly half (49) were the result of shaking/slamming. Link

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