LITTLE ROCK, AR. (April 26, 2010) – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) and Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) joined together on Monday to raise awareness about the rising incidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Each year infants die or are permanently disabled at the hands of their caregivers by abusive head trauma, more commonly known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). Last year in Arkansas, more than 4,000 children were found to be victims of physical abuse.
“Shaking a child can cause severe brain injury and sometimes even death,” said Karen Farst, MD, a child abuse specialist at ACH and an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). “Most of the cases we deal with occur at the hands of someone who truly cares for the child but gets frustrated with the child’s crying.”
While crying is the most common trigger identified in research on shaking injuries in children, other risk factors include lack of a support network for the family, children with disabilities and caregivers who have substance abuse problems.
“Nothing is more precious than a baby. But it can be frustrating when a baby won’t stop crying,” said Cecile Blucker, director of the DHS Division of Child and Family Services. “We want parents to know that there are tools they can turn to when they feel they have reached the end of their rope.”
The issue of Shaken Baby Syndrome appears to be most prevalent among young fathers and those with limited experience in caring for a newborn. The state uses a mentoring concept through its family resource centers work to teach new parents to care for their new baby.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I became a father,” said Jonathan Dunkley. “Children don’t come with an instruction manual. I didn’t know that when they are too young to communicate with you, crying is their language. I needed someone with more experience to help me through that time.”
There are several things parents and caregivers can do when faced with a situation where the crying is constant. A few of the recommended tips include:
• Remind yourself that crying is a baby’s primary form of communication. It’s OK for babies to cry.
• If you are frustrated, put the baby down in a safe place for a short time and walk away to calm down.
• Most importantly, have a crying plan that outlines the steps you will take to cope with the crying. The plan should also include a contact list of family or friends you can call for respite care and can be given to anyone that will be caring for your baby.
For more information about prevention and reporting child abuse, please visit us on the web at http://www.arkansas.gov/dhs/chilnfam/childabuseprevention/index.htm or short link
Arkansas Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children. The campus spans 29 city blocks and houses 316 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,200 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children’s health and development. ACH, recently named for the third time as one of U.S. News & World Report’s best pediatric hospitals, also has ranked twice on FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®, most recently at No. 85. For more information, visit www.archildrens.org.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or