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SBS education available at libraries

English, Ind.

Videos and DVDs presenting educational information about how to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome are available at the Crawford County Public Library in English and the Breeden Memorial Library in Leavenworth.

The films are an excellent tool for parents, hospitals, schools, babysitting classes, child care centers, health centers, prenatal and parent training classes, youth centers, Boy and Girl Scouts and church groups.

"Portrait of Promise" (running time: 11 minutes) features three families whose lives were devastated by Shaken Baby Syndrome. The film discusses injuries caused by shaking; how to calm the baby and how caregivers can cope with frustration and anger when the baby cries for a long period of time.

"Shaken Baby Awareness" (running time: seven minutes) features three fathers in the hospital; two are waiting for the delivery of their babies and the other is waiting to know if the son he shook will live or die.

"Elijah's Story" (running time: 28 minutes) is an SBS documentary, filmed by an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, that follows the life of Elijah, a 16-month-old who was shaken to death by his biological father.

Everyone should be aware that a very high percentage of the population, primarily babysitters, does not know that shaking a baby can cause brain damage or even death. Severe injury is most common in an infant because a baby's head is heavy and the neck muscles are weak. The brain is undeveloped and is small in the skull cavity. When shaken, it creates a whiplash effect that causes the brain to slam against the skull, causing the brain to stretch and tear and bleed. Even older children have suffered severe brain damage or death. No one should shake or hit a small child.

Everyone who cares for infants and young children should see these films to be informed. Parents can use the videos to learn how to communicate with their child's caregiver and work together with the caregiver to make a plan as how to care for the child, as well as make a plan of how the caregiver can calm the child and themselves to keep from becoming frustrated and angry when the child won't stop crying.

It is normal and healthy for a baby to cry; that is how they communicate. If the baby continues to cry after taking care of all its needs, and the baby is in good health, he or she may want to be alone to unwind and rest. The best place to put the baby is in a crib or playpen safely on its back. Be sure that there is nothing in the crib or playpen that can smother the baby, such as soft fluffy pillows, comforters, stuffed animals and wedges, as these items can impair the infant's ability to breathe if they cover his face.

Caregivers need to take time to eat, rest and exercise to be able to increase their energy and decrease their stress level. Never feel ashamed to call a family member, friend or healthcare provider for help; taking care of children is a big job! If you need help or advice, call 1-800-CHILDREN or the Healthy Families office in your area or contact the American Academy of Pediatrics at childcare@aap.org or by calling 1-888-2275409. The Parental Stress Line is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-632-8188.

Parents and child caregivers can learn more about how to protect and care for their children at the following Web sites: National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (www.dontshake.org), First Candle (www.firstcandle.org), Indiana Perinatal (www.indianaperinatal.org), American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org), Healthy Kids, Healthy Care (www.healthykids.us), Prevent Child Abuse Indiana (www.pcain.org/education), National Institute for Child and Human Development Back to Sleep Campaign (www.nichd.nig.gov/sids/sids.cfm) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (www.jpma.org).

Rita Harden
June 03, 2009

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