The Ottumwa Courier

Letters to the Editor

May 10, 2013

Injuries to infants, children can be prevented

In the April 25 Courier, there were two stories of very young children who may have been severely harmed by a caretaker. We only know the circumstances revealed by the media, but our community has heard of these tragedies before.

Only about 2 percent of infants cry incessantly in their first few months of life. However, the constant crying can be a precursor to Shaken Baby Syndrome. It is heartbreaking to know that shaking a baby may be far more dangerous than parents and other caregivers realize.

It is a form of child abuse that is preventable. We are fortunate that Wapello County has several agencies who willing and able to educate parents, grandparents and other caregivers about how to appropriately cope with an infant who cannot be quieted or comforted.

Child Care Nurse Consultant Jane Matzen with American Home Finding Association recently provided the Period of Purple Crying training for child care providers in both Mahaska and Wapello counties. Each provider got a DVD with information about normal infant crying patterns. They were also given coping ideas that stressed caregivers can use to keep infants safe. DVDs and coping strategies were funded by the Wapello County Children's Alliance.

Family support services for stressed caregivers are available at no cost because they are funded by Mahaska/Wapello Early Childhood Iowa, the Children's Alliance (through Prevent Child Abuse Iowa) and through the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) federal grant. First Resources provides Helping Hands Nurturing Program (641-683-1302), SIEDA provides Parents as Teachers and FaDSS (641-683-8741). Inquiries about these family support services are invited.

Every person in Wapello County can be a part of the safety net to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome. The first step is to become educated. Any person can learn more about protecting very young children. First Resources, SIEDA and ISU Extension (641-682-5491) are willing and able to provide information and programs. Programs on child safety are also available from Early Childhood Iowa Director Pat McReynolds at 641-451-5437.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Please request a program on Shaken Baby Syndrome from one of the agencies listed above. Your group will become educated enough about Shaken Baby Syndrome to make a difference in our community.

Sara Persons


Wapello County Children's Alliance


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