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Education program reduces incidents of shaken baby syndrome

HERSHEY, PA A low-cost, hospital-based parent education program can reduce the incidence of abusive head injuries caused by shaken baby syndrome by nearly 50 percent, a Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center researcher reports.

"Abusive head injuries among infants are serious, with about one quarter of infants dying from their injuries and at least one half of the survivors suffering significant neurological impairments," said Mark S. Dias, M.D., pediatric neurosurgeon and associate professor of neurosurgery, Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and director of the shaken baby syndrome education program. "Our study shows that an effective prevention campaign could potentially save the lives of many children and significantly improve the lives of many others."

The study titled, "Preventing Abusive Head Trauma Among Infants and Young Children: A Hospital-Based, Parent Education Program," was published April 4, 2005 in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study, led by Dias, began in 1998 and included 16 hospitals in an eight-county region of western New York State served by the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. The goals of the program were to develop a standardized education program about shaken baby syndrome for parents of all newborn infants in the region before leaving the hospital, to assess parents' knowledge about the dangers of violent shaking, and to track the use of the education program through the use of commitment statements, agreements signed by parents that show that they received and understood the educational materials.

Nurses at the hospitals were trained by nurse educators to provide pamphlets, discuss them with parents and show a short video. Nurses were to specifically seek out fathers or father-figures who are more often involved in shaken baby syndrome cases. The parents were then asked to sign commitment statem
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4-Apr-2005


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