Knitters click to recognize shaken baby syndrome

Wednesday , May 28, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner corespondent

FARMINGTON -- Shaken baby syndrome is the most common and most dangerous form of abuse in children under one. Approximately 80 percent of all infant who are shaken suffer significant brain injuries and upwards of 30 percent die as a result of their injuries.

This summer, knitters across Utah and the nation will be clicking their knitting needles together to make purple colored baby caps for the CLICK for Babies, period of PURPLE Crying Caps campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness about normal infant crying and the prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma.

"This is the fourth year that we are putting on the CLICK for Babies: Period of PURPLE Crying Caps campaign in Utah," said Chelsea Naughton, international program coordinator and campaign manager at the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Farmington.

"We ask knitters, crocheters, and crafters to create purple colored baby caps that are then delivered to hospitals and other birthing centers to be delivered to families with the Period of PURPLE Crying program at the birth of their baby," she said.

All of this community interaction creates an opportunity to start conversations about the Period of PURPLE Crying as well as SBS/AHT," Naughton said. The caps also serve as a reminder for parents to go back and look at the PURPLE program materials that they were given in the hospital, or to share them with other caregivers.

"The other caregiver aspect is a really big piece of the PURPLE program. Materials are given to parents in the hospital, but everyone who cares for the infant should know about the Period of PURPLE Crying," she said.

Naughton said talking about PURPLE crying is a much easier conversation to have than 'Don't shake my baby.' Parents can say to the babysitter or caregiver "Johnny is a really high crier. Even I find it frustrating and have to put him down to take a break sometimes, so what’s our plan?'

"With CLICK, we aim to make that knowledge more universal to increase awareness about this issue throughout society in general," she said.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome fields numerous calls from anxious parents and care givers each week, wondering if everyday play activities can possibly cause shaken baby syndrome, said Amy Wicks, information and research specialist for the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. These parents usually call after a well-meaning relative or friend has cautioned them regarding such activities as using an infant swing, tossing a child in the air or bouncing a baby on the caregiver's knee.

"Shaken baby syndrome, which may result in severe brain trauma, is caused when a child is violently shaken such that the head is subjected to back and forth motion in one or more directions resulting in rapid repeated severe acceleration and deceleration of the head," Wicks said. "The medical literature and ongoing research from around the world have characterized shaken baby syndrome as well as other forms of accidental and non-accidental injury."

The Period of PURPLE Crying is a normal developmental phase that all babies go through, Naughton said. PURPLE is an acronym representing the features of this crying. During the first few months of life, babies will cry more than any other time in their life. The increased crying typically starts during the first two weeks and peaks around the second month of life, then starts to decrease in the third or fourth month.

"Some babies will cry more, some less, but they'll all go through this phase. Research has shown that frustration with crying is the number one trigger for shaking and other forms of infant abuse," Naughton said. "Because of this connection, we aim to educate parents about normal infant crying and that it is OK for them to step away if they become frustrated and that it is never OK to shake or hurt a baby out of frustration from that crying."

Caps will be collected from May through the end of September. Caps can be sent to organizers in participating jurisdictions or directly to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. A complete list of collections sites is available at

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