Swedish Implements Program to Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome

Swedish Implements Program to Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome

SEATTLE, April 22, 2011 – As part of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, Swedish is joining hospitals and organizations nationwide by launching the Period of PURPLE Crying program at its three hospital campuses that have childbirth centers (First Hill, Ballard and Edmonds). Beginning the month of April, Swedish will be offering educational materials to all new parents. The program is aimed at preventing shaken baby syndrome by teaching new mothers and fathers about infant crying, the most common trigger for caregivers abusing babies by shaking.

Each year in the United States, an estimated 1,300 infants are hospitalized due to shaken baby syndrome. One in four babies will die as a result of their injuries, and among those who survive, approximately 80 percent will suffer brain injury, blindness and deafness, fractures, paralysis, seizures, cognitive and learning disabilities or cerebral palsy.

From 2003-2007, the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) conducted research testing the Period of PURPLE Crying program through randomized trials in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. The research demonstrates that the program is effective in increasing knowledge about infant crying and understanding the dangers of shaking an infant. The research also shows that parents were more likely to share this information with others. Over 4,400 parents participated in the studies and 25 parent focus groups were conducted to develop the new materials. This research program is based off over 25 years of research surrounding infant crying.

Starting at about two weeks of age, some babies begin crying more and may be difficult to comfort. Some parents may feel guilty or upset if they are not able to soothe them. The Period of PURPLE program explains the normal crying curve that all infants go through. The program goes on to explain that even when parents have tried everything to console their crying baby, they may not be able to get them to stop crying, and that is normal.

“The keys to getting through the crying period are trying different soothing techniques and having a plan,” said Nicole Roehrig, pediatric clinical nurse specialist at Swedish. “Crying is normal and we want new parents to learn coping strategies early.”

The patient education program is made up of a 10-minute DVD and a full color 11-page information booklet. All physicians, nurses and medical assistants who care for new parents, infants, and children will also learn specific training techniques so they can help educate and support new parents whose babies are delivered or cared for at Swedish.

The PURPLE Crying program is aimed at educating—the critical first step in changing behavior. PURPLE materials are designed to teach parents that crying is normal and frustrating for caregivers. The letters in PURPLE stand for typical features of non-stop crying in infants:

  • Peak pattern – crying peaks at two months of age, then decreases
  • Unpredictable timing of prolonged crying
  • Resistance to soothing—the baby may keep crying for long periods
  • Pain-like look on the baby’s face
  • Long crying bouts that can go on for up to four hours
  • Evening and late afternoon crying

Implementation of The PURPLE Crying program is being led by Nicole Roehrig, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist at Swedish. Roehrig will be responsible for overseeing the distribution of materials and implementing training programs across the three Swedish campuses.

Basic soothing techniques for a fussing baby include feeding, checking your baby’s diaper, cuddling, reading or singing, rocking your baby gently, checking your baby’s temperature, creating white noise in the room, getting support and taking a break, among many others.

The NCSBS develops and tests prevention programs for organizations in North America and provides international training on shaken baby syndrome. The NCSBS, in partnership with Ronald G. Barr, MDCM, developed the PURPLE materials which can be ordered by hospitals, organizations and institutions by calling the NCSBS at 1-801-447-9360.

About The Period of PURPLE Crying

The Period of PURPLE Crying is the largest and most comprehensive evidence-based shaken baby prevention initiative in the country. By changing expectations and social norms about infant crying, the program seeks to significantly reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries that occur when frustrated parents or caregivers shake crying babies. Please visit www.purplecryingn.info for more information about the Period of PURPLE Crying. More information can also be found on Swedish’s blog: http://swedish.org/about/Blog/April-2011/Why-do-babies-cry-  


About Swedish

Swedish has grown over the last 100 years to become the largest, most comprehensive non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area with 8,500 employees, 3,000-physicians and 1,200-volunteers. It is comprised of four hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard and Edmonds); emergency departments and ambulatory care centers in Issaquah, Redmond and Mill Creek; Swedish Visiting Nurse Services; and Swedish Medical Group – a network of more than 70 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. Swedish recently opened a new emergency department and medical office building (MOB) on its Ballard campus and will open a new MOB and hospital in the Issaquah Highlands in the summer of 2011. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit Swedish online at www.swedish.org, www.facebook.com/swedishmedicalcenter or www.twitter.com/swedish.

In 2007, Swedish embarked upon an ambitious $100 million fundraising campaign. Campaign investments are used to support a wide-variety of initiatives throughout the health-care system, including cancer, heart and vascular, women and children, neurosciences, and orthopedics as well as programs to support the underserved populations. To date, the campaign has secured gifts totaling more than $74 million. For more information or to support the campaign, visit the Swedish Foundation online at www.campaignforswedish.org.

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