Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

Handle with care — Shaken Baby Syndrome can cause permanent damage

Photo by Nel Lampe. -- During the Army Community Service Boot Camp for New Dads program, expecting fathers learn basic parenting skills and the importance of dealing with the stress of caring for a new infant in a healthy manner.

By Pfc. Andrew Ingram

4th Infantry Division Public Affairs

Approximately 15 percent of all children’s deaths are caused by Shaken Baby Syndrome, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Infants and children up to age 5 can suffer serious injury or death due to this preventable condition.

Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a young child experiences jerking motions, which result in brain trauma, said Dola Handley, chief nurse, Obstetrics and Gynecology department, Evans Army Community Hospital.

Handley said this often happens when parents or caregivers become frustrated with a crying baby and shake the child on impulse.

“Even a small shake or setting your baby down abruptly can cause a whiplash effect on their brains, which could lead to a lifetime of mental problems or even death,” Handley said. “Most people don’t set out to hurt their baby — it’s just the frustration of the moment and that can lead to a lifetime of regret.”

The CDC stated one in four children diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome does not survive, and those that do suffer from severe cognitive deficiencies.

“Your baby won’t die from crying,” Handley said. “If you are frustrated, sometimes it’s best to put them in their crib and walk away for a few minutes to calm down.”

To prevent these occurrences, Lt. Col. Julie Tullberg, chief, Pediatric Services at Evans Army Community Hospital, encourages expecting and new parents to look into many of the classes provided by EACH and other Fort Carson organizations.

“Please take advantage of the resources that are available at the hospital and Army Community Service to teach you to cope with your crying baby without losing control,” Tullberg said.

Fort Carson ACS also provides classes and support groups for new parents to help them cope with the stresses of taking care of an infant. Programs offered by ACS include Boot Camp for New Dads, Mom’s Support Group, New Parent Support Program and Developing Family Resilience — Military Families.

“It is all about educating people early in the parenting stages about what is normal for kids and what is developmentally appropriate,” said Jill Nugin, a Family Advocacy Program manager with ACS. “Lots of times, when we hear about children with abusive head trauma, it’s because parents don’t know what to expect and so they think a baby crying a lot isn’t normal.”

For more information on Family Advocacy Programs, contact Fort Carson ACS at 526-4590, or visit mil/ACS.

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