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Shaken Baby Syndrome Drops by 47 Percent in Buffalo Area

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – There's been a marked decrease in the incidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome in Western New York in the seven years since a program to combat it was introduced at Women and Children's Hospital.

According to a report published in the April edition of "Pediatrics," there's been a 47 percent decline in the incidence of abusive head injuries locally since 1998. That was the year Children's Hospital introduced its Shaken Baby Syndrome Education Program. One of its coordinators is registered nurse Kathy de Guehry. She said the education begins for new parents immediately following the birth of their child.

"There is a little tear-off card with information put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which explains Shaken Baby Syndrome and gives suggestions to parents on how to cope with a crying infant," de Guehry said.

Parents are also asked to watch a short video and sign a pledge. Still, there have been a number of high profile cases where an infant has died from injuries inflicted by a parent or caregiver. de Guehry said she won't be satisfied until the rate of Shaken Baby Syndrome drops to zero.

"Our goal is to never have this happen," de Guehry said. "It's just a devastating thing. It's usually due to a momentary lapse of control on the part of a caregiver."

The success of the local program led to passage of a new state law that requires all hospitals in New York to offer similar education programs on the dangers of shaking a baby.