Category Archives: Shaken Baby Syndrome

Witnesses Offer Graphic Testimony In Child Abuse Case

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Photos that are states evidence of Child with over 40 broken bones.

Beaumont, TX  –  Witnesses in the criminal trial of a Port Arthur woman accused of severely injuring her newborn baby testified dozens of times Tuesday that it was the worst case of child abuse they had ever seen.

Christine Johnson, a Port Arthur woman accused of breaking or fracturing 40 of her newborn daughter’s bones in August 2013, is charged with two counts of injury to a child.

If convicted, the 22-year-old faces life in prison.

“Every time you grabbed something, it was broken,” said Angela Webb, a registered nurse who worked at Christus St. Mary Hospital, where Faith Mason was admitted on Aug. 18, 2013.

Webb sobbed on the stand as Assistant District Attorney Pat Knauth asked her to explain photos of Baby Faith’s injuries.

She told the jury, made up of 11 men and one woman, that she had to put an IV line in Faith’s neck, which was also broken, because all of her limbs were crackling “like Pixie Stix.”

Johnson is accused of yanking the 1-month-old out of her bassinet by her arms on Aug. 13, 2013.

The force caused the baby’s neck to break and damaged her brain, according a probable cause affidavit in the case.

An investigator with Child Protective Services testified that Johnson told her she grabbed the girl so violently because she cried and woke her up.

Johnson was arrested about a month after the emergency room visit. She and Faith’s father, Darrell Mason, 19, lost custody of their daughter around the same time.

Mason is also charged with injury to a child. He will be tried separately at a later date.

Faith Mason, now 2, remains in state care.

Ryan Matuska, Johnson’s attorney, asked all of the state’s witnesses if they could say precisely what caused the girl’s injuries. They all testified that they could not.

Dr. Peter Evans, St. Mary’s emergency room medical director, said Faith’s injuries were so severe that they were comparable to a fall from a two-story building or a severe car crash.

“Her femur was completely deformed,” he testified.

Matuska said in his opening statement Tuesday morning that Faith’s injuries were undeniable. But who caused the injuries was unclear, he told the jury.

“I ask you to keep an open mind,” Matuska said.

Testimony will resume in Stevens’ court today.

The trial is expected to last all week.

Caps Raise Awareness Of Child Abuse

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Denise Easeley, a NICU nurse at UnityPoint Health

Hospital’s goal is to knit 3,500 caps as part of campaign

“Crying is the No. 1 trigger for infant abuse,” she said. “Shaken baby syndrome is 100 percent preventable.”

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA  –  Denise Easeley says it’s normal for parents to become frustrated with their babies.

However, there is a point where one needs to draw the line.

“Purple crying” is defined as a period when an infant is inconsolable. It also is a time when parents may feel like they are at their wits end.

The national Click for Babies campaign aims to raise awareness of the purple crying period and prevent child abuse from occurring. As part of the campaign in Cedar Rapids, UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s five years ago began hosting knit-ins.

“Our goal is to increase awareness for the period of purple crying program by educating parents and caregivers,” said Easley, a NICU nurse at UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s. “We don’t want babies to be shaken or hurt.”

During the knit-ins, volunteers knit purple caps for babies, to symbolize purple crying.

St. Luke’s will host two knit-ins from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 4 and Oct. 3. There already were two knit-ins at the hospital in July and August.

Nine hundred caps were turned in after this year’s first knit-in, Easley said, including some by those who previously participated.

At the knit-ins, participants look at patterns, teach each other and enjoy chatting, Easley said. Participants are asked to bring their own knitting needles and yarn. A limited supply of yarn and patterns will be available.

Yarn donations also are accepted.

The goal for the campaign is 3,500 caps, which will be distributed to birthing hospitals across the state.

Easley said most of Iowa’s large hospitals teach new parents about purple crying.

“Parents get the education in the hospital and then they take it home. In November and December, after they’ve received their education, then they take home a purple cap.”

Easley said she wants the public to know that babies are supposed to cry.

“Crying is the No. 1 trigger for infant abuse,” she said. “Shaken baby syndrome is 100 percent preventable.”

NEVER Shake A Baby

When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying

Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a baby is shaken. The blood vessels in a baby’s head cannot tolerate the impact of shaking and can break.

  • Each year about 1,000 children die from Shaken Baby Syndrome.
  • Death, brain damage, mental retardation, seizures, or blindness may result from shaking a baby.
  • Shaking usually happens when parents or caregivers become frustrated or angry when they are not able to stop the baby from crying.
  • Shaken baby syndrome is 100% preventable.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Comforting a crying baby: Know when to seek help

If the stress or crying becomes more than you can stand, or if you feel like shaking, hitting or harming your baby in any way, call for help immediately.

In the U.S.:

  • 24-Hour Parent Helpline: 1-888-435-7553
  • Crying Baby Hotline: 1-866-243-2229
  • Fussy Baby Warmline: 1-888-431-BABY

In the UK:

  • Parentline: 0808 800 2222
  • Parent Lifeline: 0114 272 6575

In Australia:

  • Parentline: 1300 30 1300

In Canada:

  • Parent Help Line: 1-800-668-6868

If you constantly feel overwhelmed and the feeling doesn’t go away, you probably need some outside help. Additionally, if you are feeling like you can’t pick up on your baby’s cues or your baby isn’t alert enough to engage in the early milestone behaviors, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Problems that are identified right away can almost always be solved.

Special circumstances that might require professional help

Physical, mental, or emotional challenges at birth, or soon after, are often traumatic to an infant and can cause your baby’s nervous system to get “stuck.” A nervous system that is stuck will probably have difficulty with regulation, which means the baby will have a hard time settling down.

Special or traumatic circumstances that might cause problems include:

  • Premature birth
  • Difficult or traumatic birth
  • Medical problems or disability
  • Adoption or separation from primary caregiver

Where to go for help when your baby won’t stop crying

If your baby is crying or upset often, or unresponsive, you should seek help from your pediatrician or a child development specialist. Your pediatrician should be able to recommend a specialist in early infant behaviors to help you figure out if there is a problem and what to do about it. Alternately, contact the pediatrics branch in your local hospital and ask about services in your area, such as:

  • Parenting skills classes. Available in many areas, coaching and education for parents and caregivers can build necessary parenting skills and offer support and advice.
  • Support groups. Run by peers rather than professionals, support groups provide a safe environment to share experiences, advice, encouragement, and coping strategies for parents of babies who won’t stop crying.

Source: helpguide.org