A consortium of the 19 community hospitals and 1 tertiary care children's hospital that provide maternity care in the New York State Hudson Valley region implemented a program to teach parents about the dangers of shaking infants and how to cope safely with an infant's crying. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the program in reducing the frequency of shaking injuries.
The educational program, which was delivered by maternity nurses, included a leaflet explaining abusive head trauma (“shaken baby syndrome”) and how to prevent it, an 8-minute video on the subject, and a statement signed by parents acknowledging receipt of the information and agreeing to share it with others who will care for the infant. Poisson regression analysis was used to compare the frequency of shaking injuries during the 3 years after program implementation with the frequency during a 5-year historical control period.
Sixteen infants who were born in the region during the 8-year study period were treated at the children's hospital for shaking injuries sustained during their first year of life. Of those infants, 14 were born during the 5-year control period and 2 during the 3-year postimplementation period. The decrease from 2.8 injuries per year (14 cases in 5 years) to 0.7 injuries per year (2 cases in 3 years) represents a 75.0% reduction (P = .03).
Parent education delivered in the hospital by maternity nurses reduces newborns' risks of sustaining an abusive head injury resulting from shaking during the first year of life.