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CMC/DHK Implements Infant Abuse Prevention Program

January 10, 2014
Keene, NH

Purple Cap Baby

Baby Zoey

Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene (CMC/DHK) is the latest hospital to join an evidenced based international child-abuse prevention initiative, The Period of Purple Crying®. The program educates new parents about a developmental stage of increased crying that can occur and cause extreme stress, and at times infant abuse, when a baby is between two weeks and six months of age.

Frustration with a child’s crying is shown to be the leading trigger to shaking or harming an infant. The same research also shows that all infants go through a stage in their development where they cry increasingly more beginning around two weeks of age, peaking around two months and leveling off around 4-5 months. This means that there is a unique opportunity to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome (also called Abusive Head Trauma or AHT) by going beyond simple warnings not to shake an infant.

The Period of PURPLE Crying® program employs a triple dose strategy to introduce, reinforce, and promote the messages of the program. CMC/DHK has implemented Dose One in our Women’s and Children’s Health Unit and are currently evaluating implementation plans for the Dose Two. CMC/DHK is also evaluating the level of the organizational participation in Dose Three of the program in conjunction the NH annual public awareness campaign.

Linda Glasschroeder, RN-OB BSN, Clinical Leader of the Women's and Children's Health Unit at the hospital, shares, "Research shows us that even if parents try various known soothing techniques and do everything we know that should soothe a baby, sometimes babies just keep crying. By letting parents know it is normal and offering them solutions for how to get through it, we hope to prepare parents, decrease their frustration, and make the PURPLE period as successful as possible."

The Period of PURPLE Crying® information will be shared with all parents who give birth at Cheshire Medical Center and each parent will receive their own set of materials containing a ten minute film and booklet to bring home. The DVD also contains a 17-minute bonus feature on "Crying, Soothing and Coping - Doing What Comes Naturally." Parents are encouraged to share the DVD, or at least the message, with anyone who cares for their child.

 WACHU group

L to R: Christina Mackey RN, BSN; Melody Moschan, RNC-OB, BSN; Maria Doyle, Training Director, NH Children’s Trust, Inc.; and Linda Glasschroeder, RNC-OB, BSN, Clinical Leader, Women’s and Children’s Health Unit, CMC/DHK.

Maria Doyle, Training Director of NH Children's Trust who leads the initiative in New Hampshire hopes the parents of every baby in NH get this information. "We know that parental frustration with crying is the number one stimulus to shaking or hurting an infant.  We are pleased to support Cheshire Medical Center in sharing this information with all parents as an important step to keep infants free from harm," she says.

CMC/DHK is the fifteenth of NH’s 20 birthing hospitals to join this effort.  In 2010, The NH Abusive Head Trauma Coalition selected the Period of PURPLE Crying® program as one that they would like to see implemented statewide. NH Children’s Trust whose mission is to lead NH’s drive to eliminate child abuse and neglect, is a member of this Coalition.  In 2012 NH Children’s Trust took on leadership of the effort as one of its strategic priorities. 

The Period of PURPLE Crying® program was developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant's crying during this phase and let parents and caregivers know that what they are experiencing is indeed normal and, although frustrating, is simply a phase in their child's development that will pass. The word "Period" is important because it tells parents that it is only temporary and will come to an end.

Julie Price, the International Program Director at the National Center was thrilled about CMC/DHK joining the PURPLE team. "Implementing prevention programs, even programs as important as reducing infant physical abuse, can sometimes take a back seat to the other big priorities hospitals have, particularly during this time of healthcare transformation. [This] is another huge accomplishment toward keeping babies safe in NH. I applaud Cheshire Medical Center, for your commitment to deliver this program to parents which aims to improve parental self-efficacy, the care of infants and reduce the incidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome, Abusive Head Trauma, and infant physical abuse."

About
The Period of PURPLE Crying was developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. In 2010 the N.H. Abusive Head Trauma Coalition chose this program as the one they would promote to reach parents of every baby born in New Hampshire. NH Children's Trust - whose mission is to lead NH's drive to eliminate child abuse and neglect - begun spearheading this initiative in 2012 to all of NH’s 20 birthing hospitals. For more information on the Period of PURPLE® Crying visit: www.nhchildrenstrust.org or contact Maria Doyle at mdoyle@nhchildrenstrust.org

About Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene
Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene is a nonprofit community hospital and clinic with a mission to lead our community to become the nation’s healthiest through our clinical and service excellence, collaboration, and compassion for every patient, every time. Founded by CMC/D-HK, Healthy Monadnock (formerly Vision 2020) is a community-wide health initiative designed to actively engage the citizens of Cheshire County in the process of becoming the nation's healthiest community by 2020. To learn more, call 603-354-5400.

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