Shaken Baby Syndrome Education Critical

Letter to the editor
March 6, 2008
To the Editor:

I have been a long-time advocate for Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) awareness and education. In 2005, I authored a bill that would allow all secondary schools with a parenting skills class to instruct students on prevention and consequences of shaking an infant.

Sadly, as reported by Syracuse.com on Wednesday, March 5, another parent in Sandy Creek is accused of shaking his newborn son twice. From that report, the infant has undergone surgeries to repair the damage caused by this act. Simply put, education programs on SBS for first-time parents undoubtedly help to save our children and potential distress to a family. Further, SBS education is not limited to first-time parents: any adult living in the house with a newborn and caregiver should undergo the same instruction and prevention course as first-time parents.

SBS is a preventable condition if parents understand the harm caused to a baby when shaken. Infants can suffer paralysis, coma, traumatic brain injury, blindness and even death. A crying baby will not be comforted by being shaken.

Parenting.com, a leading online source for parents, has some simple and effective techniques for calming an upset child. Some include:

  • Hold the infant on his or her side or stomach, rather than on their back
  • Create ‘white noise’ by running a fan or other appliances
  • Rhythmically sway the infant gently
  • Give the infant a pacifier
  • Sing to the infant
  • Give the infant a bath
  • Stay calm – the infant can pick up on your stress levels

Shaken Baby Syndrome is preventable if we give first-time parents the tools needed to be successful.