UofL Hospital offers shaken baby syndrome parent education program


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – New mothers at University of Louisville Hospital are now learning about shaken baby syndrome through a program recognized by recent Kentucky legislation. Shaken baby syndrome, also known as abusive head trauma, describes the damage that can occur when a baby is violently shaken, including blindness, seizures, paralysis, permanent brain damage, even death.

    UofL Hospital is the first local hospital outside the Norton Healthcare system to offer families information about the most common form of deadly child abuse.

    “We are proud to partner with Norton Healthcare, who was named in House Bill 285 to pilot the outreach effort. This is a proven program. One hospital found it reduced the incidence of abusive head trauma by nearly 50 percent,” said UofL pediatrician Erin Frazier, M.D., who is spearheading the parent education program at UofL Hospital.

    A nurse talks to each baby’s parents at discharge. They watch a video and review a brochure that describes the consequences of shaking a baby and offers tips for coping with persistent crying. The adults are asked to sign a commitment statement.

    “This is important for every new parent because everyone is capable of shaking a baby in the right situation. New parents are under a lot of stress, especially those whose babies are small or sick or irritable,” said Pauline Hayes, UofL Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit clinical nurse manager.

    Approximately 65 University Hospital nurses have been trained to educate the 2,000-plus families whose babies are cared for at the Center for Women and Infants at UofL Hospital each year.

    House Bill 285, introduced by State Representative Addia Wuchner, acknowledged Norton Healthcare for piloting this outreach which organizers hope to roll out to 53 birthing centers across the state. The heart of the legislation requires training on abusive head trauma for a variety of professionals and groups throughout the commonwealth who come into contact with children. UofL Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky and Norton Healthcare are partnering to develop the child abuse education programs for the various groups named in the bill, including law enforcement, child care workers, health care workers and foster parents.

    “This new legislation has given us a tremendous opportunity to work together on our shared goal—we want to make Kentucky last in the child abuse fatality rate,” said Melissa Currie, M.D., chief of UofL Pediatric Forensic Medicine.