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An estimated 1,200 to 1,400 children are killed or injured every year as the result of being violently shaken. Now a Utah-based program called Period of PURPLE Crying aims to prevent those cases in a new way, starting this week.
Program officials want to educate parents about the purple period of crying, the first months of life where some babies cry inconsolably for hours. That age corresponds with when the majority of shaken babies are abused.
Leslie Francis's third baby is pretty near perfect at 12 days old. But her first? "She would cry for three to six hours a day," Leslie said.
Francis tried baths, walks, car rides; nothing worked. Then one day, far down the road, she learned about the purple period of crying, the months of crying some babies and parents go through for no real reason.
"It was like a light bulb went off. I finally had answers," she said.
Amy Wicks of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome explained, "It starts at a couple of weeks, peaks at two months and begins to taper down."
Research has found a correlation between that time period and when the majority of shaken baby cases occur.
Julie Price, also with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, said, "Twenty-five percent die. Up to 80 percent have signs of blindness and brain damage."
A DVD and brochure are now being handed out in every birthing hospital in Utah, the first hospitals nation to do so. It explains to parents about possible long jags of crying, that it's OK to put the baby in a safe place and walk away, and that it's just a phase that babies will grow out of.
Leslie Francis said, "I assumed it was something I was doing wrong or something was wrong with her."
Leslie will have to wait to see if her newborn goes through the period of purple crying. But now she says she's ready. "I feel I'm more equipped this time," she said.
So where does "purple" come from? It's the Peak of crying that's Unexpected and Resists soothing. The baby has a Pain-like face, the crying is Long-lasting, and it may go on into the Evening.
You can find more information at the link on this page.