2018-05-28

Never shake babies: awareness-raising campaign starts

Never shake babies: awareness-raising campaign starts

The Terre des Hommes Foundation, together with six paediatric hospitals, has launched in recent months the first national awareness campaign on "Shaken Baby Syndromeor "Shaken Baby Syndrome. It is the leading cause of death by ill-treatment in the early years of a child's life.

But what is the Shaken Baby Syndrome?

It is a real disease that can lead to the death of very young children. As the name suggests, it is the result of a violent shaking of the newborn (perhaps done with the aim of calming his crying). The child is shaken as a reaction to his inconsolable crying, resulting in trauma to the brain and subsequent neurological sequelae. In the first months of life, in fact, the cervical muscles of the neck are still weak and cannot support the head; if a child is shaken with force, the brain moves freely within the skull, causing bruising, swelling and bleeding of the tissues. The problem is that many parents, grandparents and babysitters are not aware of how risky it can be to try to calm down a newborn baby in this way.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms can be different: from vomiting to inappetence, from convulsions to cardiorespiratory arrest.

Effects not visible to the naked eye

The effects of shaking are inside the head of the newborn, so not visible to the naked eye. In order to assess the capacity of the first aid station, it is necessary to make a CT scan or an MRI. Even if you do not reach coma or death, the neurological damage can be very serious and permanent (blindness, paralysis, physical or cognitive disability, epilepsy, learning disorders, hearing disorders, speech disorders) and involve a long rehabilitation that very rarely brings back the normal situation.

What absolutely must be avoided?

Whatever the reason for your cry, you should never shake your baby to calm him down. There are many other solutions that can be implemented to try to calm the crying of a newborn baby: cradle it in the wheelchair, let it take a ride in the car, a relaxing bath, or band it with a sheet bending its limbs so that it returns to the fetal position, or even make it hear the white noise (such as a hairdryer or a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner). But if the crying doesn't stop and becomes really exasperating, the best thing to do, if you can no longer manage it and bear it, is leave the child in a safe place and move away until you have regained a certain balance. Or alternatively, seek help from other family members and, in the most important cases, let a doctor visit your newborn if there are any concerns about your health.

Lucia Franco

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