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Does Colic Increase Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Experts believe that more than ninety percent of cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome are caused by colic. It is ironic that the frustration of seeing your child in pain and the powerlessness of not being able to help can lead to more harm to the child. Doctors often send mothers of colicky babies home without hope, telling mothers to just wait for the crying that could last up to six months. It’s no wonder some parents buckle under the pressure. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is also known as Abusive Head Trauma/Inflicted Brain Trauma (AHT). When the baby is shaken, because the baby’s neck muscles are not developed, the brain can bounce back and forth in the skull and cause 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 past 2 weeks almost non-stop. You are afraid. I am frustrated. You are sleep deprived. You don’t think clearly. You shake your baby.
The award-winning KidsHealth website by Nemours, one of the largest non-profit organizations dedicated to children’s health, has this helpful information:
A method that can help is “five S” of the author Dr. Harvey Karp:
1. Ssilence (using “white noise” or rhythmic sounds that imitate the constant noise of the sound in the womb, with things like vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, clothes dryers, a bathtub, or a white noise CD)
2. SIde/stomach positioning (putting the baby on the left side – to help digestion – or on the belly while holding him, then put the baby asleep in the crib or on his back)
3. Sucking (let the baby breastfeed or bottle, or give the baby a pacifier or a finger to suck on)
4. Swaddling (wrap the baby in a blanket to help it feel more secure)
5. Sgently rocking (rocking in a chair, using a baby swing, or taking a car ride to help duplicate the constant movement the baby felt in the womb)
If a baby in your care won’t stop crying, you can also try the following:
o Make sure the child’s basic needs are met (for example, he is not hungry and does not need to be changed).
o Check for signs of illness, such as fever or swollen gums.
o Push or walk with the child.
o Sing or talk to the child.
o Offer the child a pacifier or a noisy toy.
o Take the child for a ride in a stroller or strapped in a child safety seat in the car.
o Hold the baby close to your body and breathe calmly and slowly.
o Call a friend or relative for support or to take care of the child while you take a break.
o If there is nothing else, put the baby on his back in the crib, close the door and check the baby in 10 minutes.
o Call your doctor if nothing seems to help your child, in case there is a medical reason for the fussiness.
To prevent potential AHT, parents and caregivers of children need to learn how to respond to their own stress. It is important to talk to someone who cares for your child about the dangers of concussions and how they can be prevented.
It is worth saying that there are ways to deal with the emotional devastation colic can cause 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 your pediatrician won’t help, look for chiropractors and acupuncturists who specialize in pediatric patients. Also look for natural homeopathic medicines – they can not only help ease the symptoms of colic, but can possibly shorten the duration of colic. Beware of supplements that contain Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) which can change the PH in the baby’s delicate system.
o Ask for help from your community. Many churches and children’s services have programs set up to help mothers in need.
The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome offer a prevention program. This organization helps parents and caregivers to understand the different dynamics of the child’s crying and how to deal with the emotions that crying can invoke in the caregivers.
Other organizations that can help are:
The covenant of the shaken child
1201 West Lancaster Street
Ft. Worth Texas 76102
1-877-6ENDSBS (toll free)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 31, Rom. 2A32
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
1010 Wayne Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Think of the First Foundation [National Injury Prevention Program]
5550 Meadowbrook Drive
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
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