Increase in Shaken Baby Syndrome sets devastating new record - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Increase in Shaken Baby Syndrome sets devastating new record

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Milwaukee (WKOW) -- from Children's Hospital of Wisconsin:  With 28 cases of shaken baby syndrome being treated at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin since the start of 2008, Wisconsin and northern Illinois broke a devastating new record of shaken baby cases previously set in 2006.

  "Shaking or slamming an infant's head is one of the most brutal ways to abuse a child, and it is 100 percent preventable," said Lynn Sheets, MD, medical director of the Children's Hospital's Child Protection Center. "Never, ever shake a baby."

  Shaking an infant can cause permanent, severe brain damage and death.

  During shaking or slamming, the infant brain is torn, resulting in devastating brain injury and bleeding around the brain.

  Those who survive often live with residual problems including blindness, deafness, seizures and learning disabilities.

  As many as 30 percent of shaken babies die as a result of their injuries.  

  "The economic downturn and looming holiday season contribute to a community that is experiencing higher stress levels than ever before," said Sheets. "When you combine financial stress with other stressors and an inconsolable, crying infant, caregivers are more likely to become frustrated or angry and hurt the infant."

  "Frustrated caregivers should place the baby in a safe place and walk away. A baby never has died due to excessive crying," said Sheets. "In fact, most infants cry between two to three hours a day. An additional 20 to 30 percent of infants cry substantially more."

  "It is normal for parents and caregivers to feel frustrated," said Jennifer Hammel, director, Child Abuse Prevention Fund. "But, it never is OK to harm a child."

  Children's Hospital urges parents and caregivers to take these steps when they feel themselves becoming frustrated while caring for an infant or toddler:  

  • Put the child down gently in a safe place (such as a crib) and leave the room. Give yourself time and space to cool down.   
  • Pick up the phone and call a friend, neighbor, relative or a parent helpline. Sometimes, just talking to another adult can help calm nerves.   
  • Walk with or carry the child to a neighbor's home and ask for help.  
  • No matter how frustrated you become, never shake a baby.
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