Abusive Head Trauma and ICON

What is abusive head trauma?

  • ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’
  • Child Abuse
  • Catastrophic injuries:
    • Bleeds in the brain and behind eyes
    • Fractures
  • Babies can be shaken, thrown or hit
  • It affects approximately 24 of every 100,000 babies admitted to hospital each year
  • Research suggests 1 in 9 mothers may have shaken their baby and up to 2 in 9 felt like doing so.

Who shakes and why?

  • 70% perpetrators are males – fathers/male surrogates (Kesler et a 2008; Altman et al 2010)
  • Can occur in every socio-economic group
  • Coping with crying: Living on the edge
  • Caregivers lose control and shake – baby stops crying
  • Demonstrable relationship between the normal peak of crying and babies subject to AHT. (Barr et al 2006)
  • Increase in cases in the 1st month of life, a peak at 6 weeks during the 2nd month and a decrease during the 3rd to 5th months of life

Triggers

  • Crying is considered the main trigger
  • Peak of crying is 6-8 weeks of age
  • The parents or the mothers partner are responsible for AHT in 75% of babies
  • A majority of perpetrators are male
  • The most at risk groups are:
    • Male baby
    • Below 6 months
    • Low birth weight
    • Regular contact with health professionals

ICON is a programme of intervention based around coping with crying. The programme requires the same messages being shared with parents and carers at different stages by different professionals.

ICON represents:

* I – Infant crying is normal

* C –Comforting methods can help

* O – It’s OK to walk away

* N – Never, ever shake a baby

For further information please visit the ICON website

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