Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Prevention: North Carolina

The McDowell News has a great story on efforts to increase awareness in North Carolina. Link

The Carolina Hurricanes recognized the work of Carrie Price, a nurse at Rutherford Hospital, to educate new parents. And even better, the Hurricane's team captain, Eric Staal and his infant son appeared in a PSA to increase awareness. Link

By Britt Combs The McDowell News
Published: February 9, 2010

What with the recent snowy weather, many in McDowell have seen more than ever of the inside of their homes.

But not Carrie Price.

When nearly a foot of snow blasted North Carolina, she and her husband, Patrick, drove to Raleigh to take in a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game.

The team invited Price, a registered nurse from Rutherford Hospital's Birth Place, to take part in an event designed to prevent child abuse and raise awareness of some of the frustrations faced by parents of young babies.

"We had to drive there in the falling snow," she said. "What's normally a 3 hour trip took seven hours. We had a great time and it was very exciting to see the Hurricanes play."

Adding to the fun was the excitement of seeing the Hurricanes defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. The trip was a blast and the Prices were glad to have an excuse to spend the night and make a
romantic weekend of it.

She said she would have made the trip without the hockey game if it helped prepare parents for that difficult stage of their new babies' lives. She has seen more than enough to make her aware just how confused and powerless parents can feel when their babies are inconsolable.

"They used to call it 'colic,'" said Price, but, she explained, that gives the impression the tendency of some babies to cry for extended periods is a disease. In fact, she said, many babies go through a stage of crying for no discernable reason.

"That's why we call it 'The Period of Purple Crying'; because it's just a normal stage."

Price works to prepare new parents for this frustrating process. Hopefully, with information and tools ready, the parents will be better prepared to deal with the situation that has been cited as a aggravating factor in "shaken baby syndrome."

The mission to spread that awareness has become a favorite cause of Hurricanes Captain Eric Staal. He, his wife, Tanya and their infant son, Parker filmed a PSA to encourage parents to be cool when the screaming starts.

"We all know it's normal for babies to cry, but it can be really frustrating when they cry for hours and nothing we can do makes the crying stop," Staal explained in the message.

"The most important thing is what we do with that frustration. You just have to stay cool and know that this normal crying period will end."

Price, a mother of three, has been working in the maternity department at Rutherford since 2003. She said the Purple Crying campaign has enabled her to get a lot of information across to new parents very quickly -- at a time when they are exhausted and want to go home. And that, she said, has been key to having a lasting impact.

"None of my babies went through that stage," she said, "and not all babies do. But it is very normal." She said babies can cry for hours on end and the parents feel completely powerless to
comfort their babies.

In the noise and chaos, combined with the frustration and helplessness, she said, a parent may be tempted to shake the baby -- a hasty decision that can leave the child with devastating, disabling injuries, and the parent with a lifetime of regret.

The best coping mechanism, she said, is to "simply put the child down in a safe place and get away until you can calm down." The injuries the child can sustain, often called shaken baby syndrome,
include blindness, seizures, learning disabilities and death.

Lyn Jackson, of the group Keeping Babies Safe in North Carolina, said the Hurricanes' involvement has been very effective in changing what is considered "normal behavior" in infants.

She said the Price and the Purple Crying campaign have been successful in reducing child abuse because they take a positive approach, helping parents feel more capable, better prepared and better about their babies.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Update - 4 Cosponsors for Shaken Baby Prevention Act 2010 (S.3003)

A bit of good news from Congress.

Despite all that's been going on (or not) with financial reform and health care, Senator Dodd reintroduced the Shaken Baby Prevention Act of 2010.   So far, it's picked up four sponsors in the Senate.

S.3003 A bill to enhance Federal efforts focused on public awareness
and education about the risks and dangers associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Sponsor: Sen Dodd, Christopher J. [CT] (introduced 2/4/2010

Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] - 2/22/2010
Sen Johnson, Tim [SD] - 3/8/2010
Sen Cochran, Thad [MS] - 3/8/2010
Sen Bayh, Evan [IN] - 3/16/2010

(As of 3.29.2010)

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2010 Referred to Senate committee.
Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Congresswoman Lowey introduced a counterpart bill in the House (HR.4642).  To date, the House bill awaits its first cosponsor...

SBS Prevention Act 2010

Senator Dodd and Congresswoman Lowey have reintroduced the SBS Prevention Act.  

In the Senate, it's S.3003.  Note that cosponsors are needed...
S.3003 A bill to enhance Federal efforts focused on public awareness and education about the risks and dangers associated with Shake Baby Syndrome. 
Sponsor: Sen Dodd, Christopher J.[CT] (introduced 2/4/2010) Cosponsors (None
Latest Major Action: 2/4/2010  Referred to Senate committee.
Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
In view of Senator Dodd's decision not to seek reelection, let's hope the second time will be the charm...

Below, Senator Dodd's introductory remarks in the Senate...with far too many names.


[Page: S495] GPO's PDF
By Mr. DODD: 

   S. 3003. A bill to enhance Federal efforts focused on public awareness and education about the risks and dangers associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

   Mr. DODD. Mr. President, today I rise to introduce the Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Act of 2010, important legislation that promotes awareness and prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma, a devastating form of child abuse that results in the severe injury, disability or death of hundreds of children each year.

   Child abuse and neglect is a well-documented tragedy for some of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, NCANDS, 794,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2007. Babies are particularly vulnerable; in 2007, children aged 12 months or younger accounted for nearly 40 percent of all child abuse and neglect fatalities and children aged 4 years and younger accounted for almost 77 percent. Yet even these disturbing statistics may not paint an accurate picture; most experts agree that child abuse is widely under reported.

   Abusive head trauma, including Shaken Baby Syndrome, is the leading cause of death of physically abused children, in particular for infants younger than one. When a frustrated caregiver loses control and violently shakes a baby or impacts the baby's head, the trauma can kill the child or cause severe injuries, including loss of vision, loss of hearing, brain damage, paralysis, and/or seizures, resulting in lifelong disabilities and creating profound grief for many families.

   Far too many children have experienced the horrible devastation of Shaken Baby Syndrome. A 2003 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome, an average of 300 U.S. children will die each year, and 600 to 1,200 more will be injured, of whom 2/3 will be infants younger than one. Medical professionals believe that thousands of Shaken Baby Syndrome cases are misdiagnosed or undetected, as many children do not immediately exhibit obvious symptoms after the abuse.

   Prevention programs can significantly reduce the number of cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome. For example, the upstate New York SBS Prevention Project at Children's Hospital of Buffalo has used a simple video to educate new parents before they leave the hospital, reducing the number of shaken baby incidents in the area by nearly 50 percent.

   In Connecticut, a multifaceted prevention approach involving hospitals, schools, childcare providers, and community-based organizations in awareness and training activities, including home visits and targeted outreach, has raised awareness and encouraged prevention across the state. Hospitals in many states educate new parents about the dangers of shaking a baby, yet it is estimated that less than 60 percent of parents of newborns receive information about the dangers of shaking a baby. Without more outreach, education, and training, the risk of Shaken Baby Syndrome will persist.

   With the introduction of the Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Act of 2010, I hope to reduce the number of children injured or killed by abusive head trauma, and ultimately to eliminate Shaken Baby Syndrome. Our initiative provides for the creation of a public health campaign, including development of a National Action Plan to identify effective, evidence-based strategies for prevention and awareness of SBS, and establishment of a cross-disciplinary advisory council to help coordinate national efforts.

   The campaign will educate the general public, parents, child care providers, health care professionals and others about the dangers of shaking, as well as healthy preventative approaches for frustrated parents and caregivers coping with a crying or fussy infant. The legislation ensures support for families who have been affected by SBS, and for families and caregivers struggling with infant crying, through a 24-hour hotline and an informational website. All of these activities are to be implemented through the coordination of existing programs and/or the establishment of new efforts, to bring together the best in current prevention, awareness and education practices to be expanded into areas in need. Awareness is absolutely critical to prevention. Families, professionals and caregivers responsible for infants and young children and must learn about the dangers of violent shaking and abusive impacts to the head.

   Additionally, this bill will include a study to identify the current data collected on Shaken Baby Syndrome and examine the feasibility of collecting uniform, accurate data from all states regarding the incidence rates of Shaken Baby Syndrome, the characteristics of perpetrators, and the characteristics of victims. It is my hope that having this information will enable us to better reach those who may be at risk for Shaken Baby Syndrome and, thus, prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.

   On behalf of the victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome, including Cynthia Gibbs from New York, Hannah Juceum from California, Sarah Donohue from New York, Kierra Harrison from Nevada, Miranda Raymond from Pennsylvania, Taylor Rogers from Illinois, Cassandra Castens from Arizona, Gabriela Poole from Florida, Amber Stone from New York, Bennett Sandwell from Missouri, Jamison Carmichael from Florida, Margaret Dittman from Texas, Dalton Fish from Indiana, Stephen Siegfried from Texas, Kaden Isings from Washington, Joseph Wells from Texas, Dawson Rath from Pennsylvania, Macie McCarty from Minnesota, Jake Belisle from Maine, Benjamin Zentz from Michigan, Chloe Salazar from New Mexico, Madison Musser of Oklahoma, Daniel Carbajal from Texas, Nykkole Becker from Minnesota, Gianna D'Alessio from Rhode Island, Brynn Ackley from Washington, Rachael Kang from Texas, John Sprague from Maryland, Ryan Sanders from Virginia, David Sedlet from California, Reagan Johnson from Virginia, Skipper Lithco from New York, Brittney Sheets from New York, Madilyne Wentz from Missouri, Nicolette Klinker from Colorado, Brianna Moore from West Virginia, Shania Maria from Massachusetts, Dayton Jones from Pennsylvania, Breanna Sherer from California, Evelyn Biondo from New York, Kenneth Hardy from Pennsylvania, Alexis Vazquez from Florida, Joshua True from Washington, Stephen David from California, Michael Blair from Arkansas, Olivia Thomas from Ohio, Kaleb Schwade from Florida, Aiden Jenkins from Pennsylvania, Isabella Clark from Pennsylvania, Aaron Cherry from Texas, Dominic Morelock from Ohio, Emmy Cole from Maine, Chelsea Forant from Massachusetts, Joshua Cross from Ohio, Gavin Calloway from Maryland, Christopher Daughtrey from North Carolina, McKynzee Goin from Oregon, Bryce McCormick from Florida, and many other innocent lives lost or damaged, I look forward to working with my colleagues to see that this legislation becomes law so that we can expand efforts to eradicate Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Prevention: Baby Texting

The AP, via the Washington Post, reports on a texting tool for new parents that will deliver infant health information to mobile phones.

Being optimistic that the more parents know about what they should do, the less likely they are to do things they shouldn't do to their child, kudos to the sponsors and the cellular providers who've partnered on this initiative

Hope one of the next steps is to include a variant for infant crying...
By MATTHEW PERRONE The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Expectant mothers are getting a new tool to help keep themselves and their babies healthy: pregnancy tips sent directly to their cell phones.

The so-called text4baby campaign is the first free, health education program in the U.S. to harness the reach of mobile phones, according to its sponsors, which include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, WellPoint and CareFirst BlueCross and Blue Shield. Wireless carriers including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have agreed to waive all fees for receiving the texts.

Organizers say texting is an effective means of delivering wellness tips because 90 percent of people in the U.S. have cell phones.

"Especially if you start talking about low-income people, cell phones are the indispensable tool for reaching them and engaging them about their health," said Paul Meyer, president of Voxiva, a company which operates health texting programs in Africa, Latin America and India.

Studies in those countries have shown that periodic texts can reduce smoking and other unhealthy behaviors in pregnant mothers. Meyer said the U.S. program, run by Voxiva, will be the largest health-related texting program ever undertaken.

Under the new service, mothers-to-be who text "BABY" to 511411 will receive weekly text messages, timed to their due date or their baby's birth date. The messages, which have been vetted by government and nonprofit health experts, deal with nutrition, immunization and birth defect prevention, among other topics. The messages will continue through the baby's first birthday.

Text4baby is expected to be announced Thursday morning by officials from the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Government officials will be publicizing the campaign in speeches and promotional materials.

Organizers hope the effort can curb premature births, which can be caused by poor nutrition, excessive stress, smoking and drinking alcohol. About 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year, and 28,000 infants die before their first birthday, according to the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. The nonprofit is among the sponsors of the campaign.

* * *

Researchers at the George Washington University have agreed to evaluate the effectiveness of text4baby by measuring health trends for mothers and newborns.