BACKGROUND. Infant crying is an important precipitant for shaken-infant syndrome.
OBJECTIVE. To determine if parent education materials (The Period of PURPLE Crying [PURPLE]) change maternal knowledge and behavior relevant to infant shaking.
METHODS. This study was a randomized, controlled trial conducted in prenatal classes, maternity wards, and pediatric practices. There were 1374 mothers of newborns randomly assigned to the PURPLE intervention and 1364 mothers to the control group. Primary outcomes were measured by telephone 2 months after delivery. These included 2 knowledge scales about crying and the dangers of shaking; 3 scales about behavioral responses to crying generally and to unsoothable crying, and caregiver self-talk in response to unsoothable crying; and 3 questions concerning the behaviors of sharing of information with others about crying, walking away if frustrated, and the dangers of shaking.
RESULTS. The mean infant crying knowledge score was greater in the intervention group (69.5) compared with controls (63.3). Mean shaking knowledge was greater for intervention subjects (84.8) compared with controls (83.5). For reported maternal behavioral responses to crying generally, responses to unsoothable crying, and for self-talk responses, mean scores for intervention mothers were similar to those for controls. For the behaviors of information sharing, more intervention mothers reported sharing information about walking away if frustrated and the dangers of shaking, but there was little difference in sharing information about infant crying. Intervention mothers also reported increased infant distress.
CONCLUSIONS. Use of the PURPLE education materials seem to lead to higher scores in knowledge about early infant crying and the dangers of shaking, and in sharing of information behaviors considered to be important for the prevention of shaking.