New Studies on the Rise in the Number of Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma Cases During the Recession Emphasize the Importance of Increased Prevention

Sep 21, 2011, 10:40 ET from National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome

Frustration of caring for a crying infant compounded with stresses created during an economic recession makes prevention program developed by the NCSBS more important than ever.

SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) says a study published in the October 2011 issue of Pediatrics by a group of researchers headed by Dr. Rachel Berger at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh serves as a reminder of the importance of evidence based prevention programs.  The study shows a relationship between the recession and the rise of the incidence of shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma (SBS/AHT).

Data recorded from four hospitals in Pittsburgh, PA; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; and Seattle, WA from January 2004 through June 2009 show that SBS/AHT cases rose from 9 per 100,000 children prior to December 1, 2007 (defined as the start of the recession) to 15 per 100,000 children following that date. In Berger's study, 63% of the children were admitted to a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and 16% died. The data represents 422 cases of SBS/AHT in children.

A similar study conducted by Mary I. Huang and her colleagues published in the August 2011 issue of the

Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics supports the findings in Berger's study. Huang's study reviewed cases of non-accidental head trauma (NAHT) in children up to 2 years old at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland. The findings showed that NAHT cases doubled during the recession from 0.7 cases per month between December 2001 and November 2007 compared to 1.4 NAHT cases per month during the recession, December 2007 through June 2010.

"The results of these studies highlight the need for increased prevention efforts during times of economic hardship," says Marilyn Barr, Founder and Executive Director of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. "Frustration with a baby's crying is the number one trigger for shaking. The added stress many families face during a recession can make handling a crying infant even more overwhelming."

Hospitals and organizations nationwide are responding by educating parents about the Period of PURPLE Crying, a stage when normal, perfectly healthy babies can cry for five hours a day or more. The NCSBS and Dr. Ronald Barr, a developmental pediatrician and expert on infant crying, developed the program. Since January 2009, over 800 hospitals and organizations have implemented the PURPLE program, which includes giving an 11-page booklet and 10-minute DVD to every family of new baby to take home with them.

Currently, the PURPLE program has a presence in 49 out of 50 states with 5 states (Utah, North Carolina, Maine, Kansas and Iowa) implementing state-wide programs where birthing hospitals provide PURPLE to at least 80% of the total births. Additionally, 7 other states have implemented state-wide initiatives.

The Period of PURPLE Crying is a normal developmental phase that healthy babies may experience between two weeks and four months, characterized by long periods of crying. The letters in PURPLE stand for:

  • Peak of crying – The baby may cry more each week, peaking at two months, and then less at three to five months.
  • Unexpected – The crying can come and go, with no explanation.
  • Resists soothing – The baby might not stop crying no matter what you try.
  • Pain-like face – It may look like the baby is in pain, even when they are not.
  • Long lasting – The baby might cry 5 hours per day or more.
  • Evening – The baby might cry more in the late afternoon or evening.

"The Period of PURPLE Crying program shows parents that crying by an otherwise healthy baby is normal and is not caused by something that they are doing wrong," says Barr. "Additionally, the program helps parents understand that inconsolable crying does come to an end, which can be very comforting."

For more information about the Period of PURPLE Crying, go to

Contact: Ryan Steinbeigle
801-447-9360 x 112

SOURCE National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome