October 16, 2012
Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital’s Birth Center received an award in recognition of the department’s excellence in educating new parents to safely comfort a crying baby and the dangers of shaking a baby.
The “Never Shake a Baby” campaign is a state wide program directed through the Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Project of Prevent Child Abuse, Vermont. SBS is the name given to physical child abuse that occurs when an infant or small child is violently shaken. The shaking may last only a few seconds, but the effects can be deadly. Babies have large heads, soft brains, and weak neck muscles. Their neck muscles can’t support their heads, and when shaken, the head whips back and forth causing the brain to bounce off the skull, which can result in bruising, bleeding, and swelling.
In late 2008, due to an increase in Vermont babies suffering from Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), the Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) Prevention Project was initiated. This project is directed by Dr. Karyn Patno and Dr. Laura Murphy. PCAV has been a major collaborator in implementing this project.
This initiative is aimed at educating parents of new infants in the newborn nursery about SBS. All birthing centers across the state of Vermont are participating in this prevention initiative. Parents watch a movie, talk to nurses about infant crying and sign a pledge stating that they understand what may lead up to shaking a baby, the subsequent tips for defusing the situation, and the long term effects of shaking. NVRH was the first obstetrical unit trained in the intervention and has consistently followed through with great efforts to teach parents about infant crying and the dangers of shaking. As a result of their efforts and other birthing centers in the State, there has been a significant decrease in the incidence of SBS since the AHT project was completed in 2009.
When presenting the award to Birth Center staff at NVRH, Karyn Patno, MD stated “this department is the best, and you set the gold standard for birth centers throughout the state. Thank you for your commitment to keeping babies safe.”
The AHT Prevention Project was made possible by grants from the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Department for Children and Families, VT. Department of Health, and the ChildSafe Program of Vermont.