PURPLE Program Teaches Dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome

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An educational intervention program was effective in teaching mothers and caregivers about soothing and coping techniques and the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.

Over 75% of the 211 mothers rated the Period of PURPLE Crying program a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is “very useful,” and there was a high degree of agreement between mother’s and nurse’s ratings of the program.

The Period of PURPLE Crying program outlines the characteristics of an infant’s crying: Peaks in crying that are Unexplained; Resists soothing; accompanied by a Pain-like face; Long-lasting, and occurring in the Evening and late afternoon. The program is meant to educate caregivers about the dangers of pediatric abusive head trauma, which is the leading cause of death in children under 1 year of age and is the result of violent shaking or blunt trauma to the head.

Laura Schwab Reese, a doctoral candidate at the Injury Prevention Research Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues tested the program’s effectiveness on new mothers and the trained nurses who delivered the program at five birthing hospitals.

Fifty-four percent of the mothers correctly answered questions about the dangers of shaking an infant and 57.4% correctly answered questions about normal infant crying after taking the education program. Additionally, 58.8% of mothers were able to recall at least one soothing technique.

Researchers noted that having a college education was associated with getting a perfect score on overall knowledge and knowledge of normal infant crying as well as being able to recall one or more coping techniques. 

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PURPLE Program Teaches Dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome

A multicomponent educational intervention is useful and effective for teaching mothers soothing/coping techniques as well as about the dangers of shaking an infant, a study has shown.

Called the Period of PURPLE Crying program, the intervention was designed to educate infant caregivers about the risks for pediatric abusive head trauma (AHT), a form of inflicted brain injury resulting from violent shaking or blunt impact. The acronym PURPLE describes specific characteristics of an infant's crying: Peaks in crying that are Unexplained; Resists soothing; accompanied by a Pain-like face; Long-lasting, and occurring in the Evening and late afternoon.

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