15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Mark S. Dias, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Kathleen deGuehery, R.N.
Division of Neurosurgery
KALEIDA HEALTH/CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF BUFFALO
The Upstate New York Shaken Baby Syndrome Education Program, one of the first primary prevention programs of its kind in the United States, was implemented by Kaleida Health/Children's Hospital of Buffalo through the support of New York's Children and Family Trust Fund. After six years, the program now documents a sustained and consistent 50 percent reduction in Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) occurrences in the eight-county pilot region.
Dr. Mark Dias, pediatric neurosurgeon and founder of this hospital-based program, saw the devastating effects of SBS in his practice. After the birth of his son whose incessant crying produced many a sleepless night, he began to realize the potential for parents to take their frustration out on their children and the need to take action to prevent it.
Initiated as a pilot program in eight counties in Western New York, the program objective has been to educate parents of all newborns about the dangers of violent shaking. The program distributes informational cards, a video Portrait of Promise, and a poster discussing the dangers of infant shaking, as well as offers alternative behavioral responses to infant crying and other family stresses. The materials are distributed to all hospitals that provide obstetrical services. All new parents sign a commitment statement documenting receipt of this information. A list of all deliveries and signed statements are analyzed, and the incidence of shaken baby syndrome is tracked before and after implementing the program each year. In 2000, the project expanded to the nine-county Finger Lakes region of New York.
Through the success of the Upstate New York Shaken Baby Syndrome Education Program and the strong support of local advocates, a bill recently was signed by Governor Pataki institutionalizing the education program initiated by Kaleida Health/Children's Hospital of Buffalo, requiring all hospitals and birth centers to show the video Portrait of Promise to parents prior to discharge and asking parents to sign a consent form indicating they either viewed the video or declined to participate in the educational program. The legislation serves to enhance the efforts of existing programs to educate all parents in New York State about the dangers of shaking.