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2001 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 6, No. 3
June 2001

Two Things You Can Do To Protect Infants

1. Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome. Each year children are shaken to death, often because the person taking care of them is unaware how harmful shaking can be to a child. A study conducted in 1992 found that 25% to 50% of teenagers and adults did not know shaking a baby could be dangerous (Shaken Baby Alliance, 2001).

To prevent fatalities and injuries to infants, tell the parents you know—particularly the men—about the dangers of shaking babies. Explain that babies are vulnerable because their heads are disproportionately large; their neck muscles are weak; and they have watery, gelatinous brains and more space inside the skull. When the baby is forcefully shaken, nerves inside the brain can be damaged or destroyed, resulting in learning or behavioral problems, mental retardation, seizures, hearing loss, paralysis, or death (Herman-Giddens, 2001).

Fussy babies who cannot be easily comforted are at particular risk of being shaken. For information about preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) or supporting families and foster parents caring for a child with SBS, visit the Shaken Baby Alliance at <www.shakenbaby.com/>.

2. "Back to Sleep": Preventing SIDS. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under one year of age, which strikes nearly 4,000 babies in the United States every year. Placing a child to sleep on his or her back reduces the risk of death from SIDS. Tell parents and caregivers you know about this, and encourage them to put infants on their backs to sleep.

Sources: The Shaken Baby Alliance. (2001). Prevention. <www.shakenbaby.com/>.

Herman-Giddens, M. E. (Ed.). (2001). Not invisible, not in vain. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute.