Claire’s Law-Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention
The Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) program was developed in response to Claire’s Law (Ohio Revised Code 3701.63) which was signed into Ohio law by Gov. Strickland Nov. 30, 2007. The program purpose is to develop educational materials regarding SBS and make them available on the ODH Web site in an easily downloadable format. The law says materials must be distributed to expectant and new parents via hospitals, physicians’ offices, child birth educators and Help Me Grow programs; and to all staff in licensed child care centers, type A homes and certified type B family child care homes. The materials are available below.
What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Shaken baby syndrome is a type of inflicted traumatic brain injury that happens when a baby is violently shaken. A baby has weak neck muscles and a large, heavy head. Shaking makes the fragile brain bounce back and forth inside the skull and causes bruising, swelling, and bleeding, which can lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death. The characteristic injuries of shaken baby syndrome are subdural hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain), retinal hemorrhages (bleeding in the retina), damage to the spinal cord and neck, and fractures of the ribs and bones. These injuries may not be immediately noticeable. Symptoms of shaken baby syndrome include extreme irritability, lethargy, poor feeding, breathing problems, convulsions, vomiting, and pale or bluish skin. Shaken baby injuries usually occur in children younger than 2 years old, but may be seen in children up to the age of 5.
Is there any treatment?
Emergency treatment for a baby who has been shaken usually includes life-sustaining measures such as respiratory support and surgery to stop internal bleeding and bleeding in the brain. Doctors may use brain scans, such as MRI and CT, to make a more definite diagnosis.
What is the prognosis?
In comparison with accidental traumatic brain injury in infants, shaken baby injuries have a much worse prognosis. Damage to the retina of the eye can cause blindness. The majority of infants who survive severe shaking will have some form of neurological or mental disability, such as cerebral palsy or mental retardation, which may not be fully apparent before 6 years of age. Children with shaken baby syndrome may require lifelong medical care. SBS deaths and injuries can be prevented by helping adults understand normal crying, practice methods to soothe crying babies and learn how to safely relieve the stress of caring for young children.
What research is being done?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conduct research related to shaken baby syndrome in laboratories at the NIH and also support additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country. Much of this research focuses on finding better ways to treat and heal medical conditions such as shaken baby syndrome.
Deaths and injuries from shaken baby syndrome (SBS) can be prevented by helping adults understand normal crying, practice methods to soothe crying babies and learn how to safely relieve the stress of caring for young children.
With consultation from a statewide workgroup of experts, ODH is developing a comprehensive SBS prevention plan based on a best practice model from
Mark S. Dias, MD (Pediatrics, April, 2005). The plan includes educating parents, caregivers, health professionals and the community about the dangers of shaking; the normalcy of infant crying; a variety of soothing and calming techniques for both child and adult; and resources for additional help. Components of the plan will be posted to this site as they are developed.
The key element of the SBS prevention plan is the presentation of a consistent, strong message to parents by health professionals on repeated occasions: during the pregnancy, at the time of birth and during follow-up medical visits.
Additional opportunities exist for presenting the message to families participating in the Help Me Grow program or seeking child care from licensed centers or certified home providers. After the Teaching Tool is presented by a trusted health professional, parents can be guided to complete a Certificate that affirms their new knowledge and individual plan to safely respond to stressful crying.
Downloadable shaken baby syndrome education materials
Claire’s Law requires ODH to make SBS prevention materials available for download from its Web site. ODH does not have funds to supply these materials to order; however, anyone may download and print unlimited copies.
Instructions for use of ODH SBS materials
- Download the Teaching Tool. Print double-sided, in color or in black and white. Fold in thirds with “Babies cry a lot” on the outside. Add your agency contact information on the back panel. Download and print the certificate that would most appeal to the parent.
- Present the Teaching Tool to the parent. Go over the contents, beginning with the facts about crying. Point out the tips for soothing babies and relieving stress. Be sure parents understand the dangers of shaking a baby and the importance of sharing this information with anyone who will care for the baby.
- Give the parent a certificate and help them complete it with the baby’s name and an individual plan for dealing with the stress of crying.
- Encourage the parent to keep the Teaching Tool for reference and to post the certificate at home in a place they will see it often.
Instructions for use of ODH SBS materials in child care settings
- Download the Teaching Tool. Print double-sided, in color or in black and white. Fold in thirds with “Babies cry a lot” on the outside. Add your program contact information or local resources on the back panel.
- Present the Teaching Tool to the staff member. Go over the contents, beginning with the facts about crying. Point out the tips for soothing babies and relieving stress, identifying appropriate methods to use within the child care setting. Be sure staff understand the dangers of shaking a baby and know what to do if feeling overwhelmed.
- Child care facilities are encouraged to have staff sign a statement verifying receipt of the Teaching Tool and maintain a copy on file.
Other prevention resources
To maximize staff commitment to shaken baby syndrome (SBS) prevention and prepare them to respond to parents’ questions, professional SBS education for hospital staff and other professionals is recommended. Check back for contact information for SBS prevention education providers to be added in the near future.
To augment the Teaching Tool, many videos, slide presentations, posters and other teaching aids are available for purchase from The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Other helpful links-resources
Prevent Child Abuse Ohio.
American Academy of Pediatrics.
Ohio Department of Health
Shaken Baby Syndrome Program
246 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Telephone: (614) 728-0773
Fax: (614) 564-2442
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Content last reviewed 9/29/2014 – Page last updated 9/29/2014