W.Va. hospital leaders recognized for shaken baby prevention

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia First Lady Joanne Tomblin joined the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome Wednesday to honor state leaders in hospitals and organizations with their implementation and continued efforts of the Period of PURPLE Crying program.

The program aims to educate families during the normal crying period an infant experiences along with what steps should be taken to prevent injuries and deaths.

Julie Price, International Program Director of the center, said Shaken Baby/Abusive Head Trauma is one of the leading causes of infant death and injury in the United States and in West Virginia, so their mission is to provide parents in hospitals with information they can use.

“We aim to let them know it (the crying) will come to an end. It’s okay to be frustrated, so what you do when you get frustrated is important. Calm yourself down before you go and try to calm the baby down,” said Price.

Price presented the Outstanding Implementation of the Period of PURPLE Crying Award at the Charleston Civic Center to those leaders involved in promoting shaken baby prevention in hospitals and organizations statewide.

“We’ve reached a milestone. Eighty percent of the births across the state are being delivered with this education,” she said, “This makes them ‘dark purple’ on the implementation map now, which is an achievement.”

Price said they’ve been working with the leaders for the last four years. The initiative would put those leaders on the ‘light purple’ map, as she stated, but now their efforts are being recognized even further.

According to a study conducted by Dr. James McJunkin and others from the West Virginia Perinatal Summit, preliminary results show that 95 cases of Abusive Head Trauma in infants under two-years-old were treated in West Virginia hospitals from 1999 to 2009.

Price said people don’t understand the positive reinforcement shaking can cause to a baby’s health. She said, in most cases, it’s an un-witnessed event.

“You stun and you can cuss a baby through a shaking event with quieting them. People think it’s okay or it’s a soothing method. It’s really not. It causes so much danger and damage with the babies,” she said.

West Virginia has also expanded its efforts to prevent injuries and deaths for infants through implementation of other programs including the Our Babies: Safe & Sound Campaign, which is working to promote infant safe sleep as well as shaken baby prevention.