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Dartmouth Hitchcock Pediatrics in Manchester implements infant abuse prevention education

August 31, 2016

MANCHESTER – Last week, Dartmouth Hitchcock Pediatrics in Manchester joined a statewide effort to provide infant abuse prevention education to new parents.

In New Hampshire, 95 percent of parents give birth at a hospital which provides education on the Period of PURPLE Crying® – the normal developmental stage of increased crying infants may go through between two weeks and six months of age.

The education doesn’t stop in the hospital, though. Many physicians, home visitors and community health centers, such as Dartmouth Hitchcock Pediatrics in Manchester, have joined forces to remind parents of the education they received at the hospital and the importance of sharing the information with other caregivers about the Period of PURPLE Crying®.

"There is a big learning curve when you become a parent – the transition is often challenging,” said Amy Harrington, RN, who spearheaded bringing the Period of PURPLE Crying® to Dartmouth Hitchcock Pediatrics in Manchester. “Sharing information about PURPLE not only reinforces what is taught in hospitals about infant crying, but also empowers parents by teaching ways to soothe their infant and manage infant crying.”

“We hope to help parents develop a plan should they feel frustrated or in need of support,” Melissa Dell'Api RN, MSN, added. “Providing this program in the outpatient and community setting lets parents know that their providers are here for them as a resource and encourages parents to reach out to us for help if and when they need to."

Unsoothable infant crying can cause stress and frustration for parents and caregivers. Shaken baby syndrome (also called Abusive Head Trauma) and other forms of infant maltreatment can occur when parents or caregivers are unprepared for infant crying that can last up to 5 hours per day. The most common trigger of shaking or harming an infant is frustration with crying.

The Period of PURPLE Crying, developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, approaches Abusive Head Trauma and infant abuse prevention by helping parents and caregivers understand the frustrating features of crying in normal, healthy infants that can lead to shaking or abuse. The information shared with parents comes from more than 50 years of research on normal infant crying conducted worldwide. PURPLE is an acronym that describes the different characteristics of this normal and temporary developmental stage of increased crying.

“Healthcare providers are in the perfect position to remind parents of the information they received at the hospital because they are supporting parents when their infants are at the age when they may cry increasingly more and the crying is more difficult to soothe,” said Maria Doyle, NH Children’s Trust Program Director and coordinator of the Period of PURPLE Crying implementation in New Hampshire. “I am so happy to welcome Dartmouth Hitchcock Pediatrics in Manchester to the PURPLE team. As more healthcare providers join the effort to bring the PURPLE program to parents, we grow closer to our vision of a generation of children free from harm.”

NH Children’s Trust leads New Hampshire’s effort to prevent child abuse and coordinates the Period of PURPLE Crying program in our state. For more information, visit NHChildrensTrust.org/purple.