WDHB launches new anti-abuse initiative

14 April 2015
Whanganui district has a new shaken baby prevention initiative created by Whanganui District Health Board’s (WDHB) newborn hearing screeners.
The six key messages delivered by the Shaken Baby Prevention Programme are:
  • Crying is how babies communicate
  • It’s okay to walk away
  • Never, ever shake a baby
  • Never leave your baby alone with anyone you think may lose control
  • Share this information with anyone who is looking after your baby
  • If you ever think your baby has been hurt, call 111. Don’t let fear or pride stand in your way. It could save your baby’s life.
WDHB violence intervention programme coordinator Barbara Charuk says parents receive a lot of information around shaken baby syndrome before the birth of their baby and at the time their baby is born. Now, thanks to the hearing screeners, the messages around shaken baby prevention are being repeated when babies have their hearing tested.
“When our staff suggested the idea to me, it immediately made sense,” Mrs Charuk says. “I applaud them for wanting to do everything they can to stop Whanganui district babies from being shaken. It can have the most devastating effect on our smallest, most vulnerable members of the community and we need to do all we can to stop it.
“On average, 20 babies a year are admitted to New Zealand hospitals with injuries caused by shaking. Tragically, evidence shows there may be more who hospitals are not aware of.
“The injuries inflicted are terrible. Shaking a baby can cause permanent brain damage, paralysis, blindness, deafness, seizures, broken bones, development delay and death.
“The Shaken Baby Prevention Programme provides a unique opportunity for WDHB staff to give parents and caregivers effective, simple and consistent education about what to do when babies cry and the harm that can be caused when babies are shaken. They also learn what it is they have to do when they know they’re stressed.”
Mrs Charuk says to date, the programme has been delivered in ante-natal classes only with midwives also encouraging parents to watch the Power to Protect DVD while in the Maternity Ward and to take a brochure home with them.
“I’m so proud of our staff for seeing this opportunity to discuss the subject a third time and making it happen.”