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Does Colic Increase Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Experts believe that more than 90 percent of Shaken Baby Syndrome cases are caused by colic. Ironically, the frustration of watching your baby in pain and the helplessness of not being able to help can cause more harm to the baby. Doctors often send mothers of colicky babies home without hope, telling mothers to just wait for the crying, which can last up to six months. It’s no wonder some parents snap under pressure. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is also known as Abusive Head Trauma / Inflicted Traumatic Brain Injury (AHT). When a baby is shaken, because the baby’s neck muscles are not developed, the brain can bounce back and forth inside the skull, causing trauma. Head trauma is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States.
Your baby has been crying with colic for the last 2 weeks almost non-stop. You are scared. You are frustrated. You lack sleep. You’re not thinking clearly. You shake your baby.
The award-winning KidsHealth website from Nemours, one of the largest children’s health nonprofits, has this helpful information:
One method that can help is author Dr. Harvey Karp’s “Five S’s”:
1. Ssilencing (using “white noise” or rhythmic sounds that mimic the constant hum of noise in the womb, for example with vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, clothes dryers, running tubs or white noise CDs)
2. Side/tummy position (putting the baby on the left side – helps digestion – or on the stomach while holding him, then the sleeping baby is placed on the bed or crib on his back)
3. Ssucking (letting the baby breastfeed or bottle feed or giving the baby a pacifier or finger to suck)
4. Swaddling (wrapping the baby tightly in a blanket to make him feel more secure)
5. Sgently swing (by rocking in a chair, using a baby swing or traveling in a car, which helps to replicate the constant movement that the baby felt in the womb)
If the baby in your care does not stop crying, you can also try the following:
o Make sure that the baby’s basic needs are met (for example, that he is not hungry and that he does not need to be changed).
o Check for signs of illness such as fever or swollen gums.
o Rock or walk with the baby.
o Sing or talk to the baby.
o Offer the baby a pacifier or a noisy toy.
o Take your baby for a ride in a stroller or attached to a car seat.
o Hold the baby close to your body and breathe calmly and slowly.
o Call a friend or relative for support or to look after the baby during the break.
o If all else fails, place the baby on his back in the bed, close the door and check on the baby after 10 minutes.
o Call your doctor if nothing seems to be helping your baby, if there is a medical reason for the restlessness.
In order to prevent possible AHT, parents and caregivers of infants must learn to respond to their own stress. It’s important to talk to whoever is caring for your baby about the dangers of shaking and how to prevent it.
It’s worth mentioning again that there are ways to deal with the emotional devastation that colic can wreak on the whole family.
o Ask friends and family for help. Taking time out from the incessant crying can help you cope.
o Try alternative medicine. If a pediatrician doesn’t help, look into chiropractors and acupuncturists who specialize in pediatric patients. Also look into natural homeopathic remedies – not only can they ease colic symptoms, but they can potentially shorten the duration of colic. Beware of supplements that contain sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), which can change the PH in a baby’s sensitive body.
o Ask your community for help. Many churches and children’s ministries have programs set up to help mothers in need.
National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome offers a prevention program. This organization helps parents and caregivers understand the different dynamics of a baby’s cries and how to deal with the emotions of crying caregivers.
Other organizations that can help:
Shaken Baby Alliance
1201 West Lancaster Street
Ft. Value Texas 76102
1-877-6ENDSBS (toll free)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 31, Rm. 2A32
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
1010 Wayne Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Think about the foundation first [National Injury Prevention Program]
5550 Meadowbrook Drive
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
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