Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Project

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Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is the medical term used to describe the results from violently shaking an infant or young child. These injuries can include: brain swelling and damage, subdural hemorrhage (bleeding inside the brain), mental retardation, blindness, seizures, paralysis, and death. The whiplash action created by shaking causes the brain to bounce around inside the baby's skull, tearing blood vessels and nerves. SBS often results from a caregiver's momentary lapse in judgment, or as a pattern of abuse to the child.

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Babies cry for many different reasons. They are not trying to anger you. They are trying to communicate with you. A baby can cry for up to six hours a day. This is normal behavior. If the crying overwhelms you, please don't shake your baby. Call someone for help.


Accomplishments of the Grant

  • IPP initiated this surveillance effort in order to obtain sufficient data to determine the scope of the problem, identify feasible strategic goals for addressing and reducing SBS, and to determine promising intervention and best practices. In 2004, IPP conducted surveillance of SBS cases in Georgia occurring between 1998 and 2002. IPP identified 99 cases of SBS that were treated in hospitals, and of those, 16 victims died from their injuries. IPP utilized several data sources to obtain this information, including hospitals, police reports, Medical Examiner data, and Child Fatality Review records.
  • IPP also worked with internal and external partners to develop an intervention plan for reducing SBS. This intervention effort was piloted in two health departments in Fulton County and Cobb County. Grant funding enabled IPP to create education materials for distribution, survey tools for evaluation of the program, and to employ Spanish-language interpreters.
  • A strategic plan was developed to incorporate the intervention protocol into every health department in the state. This will allow all healthcare providers and injury prevention partners to utilize the education materials in their SBS intervention programs.

Distribution of Education Materials

In conjunction with Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, IPP developed magnets, postcards and posters to remind parents and caregivers not to shake a baby when he cries. The education materials, presented in both English and Spanish, were displayed and distributed to parents at the health departments.

A video, developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, was also purchased with grant funds and distributed to each of the 159 county health departments in the state. Six counties with significant Spanish-speaking populations also received a Spanish-language video. The video, "Elijah's Story", documents the true story of a baby who was shaken by his father, and presents the devastating consequences and emotions suffered by his family and the community.