The purple caps arriving at B.C. maternity hospitals and public health units in the coming weeks have a dual purpose – they not only keep newborns’ heads warm, they can also help save their lives.
To commemorate the annual CLICK for Babies public education campaign, Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux honoured volunteer knitters from the Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre who made more than 1,200 purple caps to help raise awareness about the Period of PURPLE Crying Program. The program helps prevent shaken baby syndrome, a traumatic brain injury that occurs when someone shakes a baby with or without impact, which can result in an irreversible brain injury or even death.
CLICK for Babies, now in its sixth year, brings the conversation around shaken baby syndrome beyond new and expectant parents and into the broader community. The campaign seeks volunteers throughout the province to knit purple caps that are then provided to newborns across B.C. during the colder months of November and December. The CLICK campaign has been gaining momentum, with many local groups challenging each other to see who can knit the most caps. The 1,200-plus caps from the Kennedy Seniors Centre will be added to the approximately 7,500 caps that have already been donated this year, making 2015 the most successful campaign yet.
The CLICK campaign complements the Period of PURPLE Crying Program, which is delivered in B.C. maternity hospitals and public health units year round. This program helps prevent shaken baby syndrome by helping new parents and caregivers understand normal crying patterns in young infants and how to deal with intensive periods of crying in a safe way.
The Period of PURPLE Crying Program is the first of its kind in Canada to be provided to all parents of newborns in British Columbia (approximately 45,000 births per year) before they are discharged from the hospital. To date, approximately 315,000 B.C. families have completed the program. Supported by more than $2 million in government funding since 2008, the Period of PURPLE Crying Program is making a difference. Ongoing surveillance shows the annual number of shaken baby cases in B.C. has decreased by approximately 35% for 0-2 year olds.
Program materials include a 10-minute film on infant crying and the dangers of shaking, a 17-minute film on ways to soothe your baby, and an 11-page booklet called “Did you know your infant would cry like this?” These materials arm parents with some action steps to help them cope with infant crying, reduce crying as much as possible, and prevent shaking and abuse. They also aim to help parents and caregivers understand that the characteristics of infant crying are normal, temporary and are not their fault.
Additional funders and in-kind contributors to the program include the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and BC Children’s Hospital. The Rick Hansen Foundation and Vancouver Foundation have also provided one-time funding to the program.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development –
“By clicking their knitting needles together and taking part in various knitting challenges, people in B.C. communities are spreading the message about the Period of PURPLE Crying. This year, I’m happy to give 50 little hats, lovingly knitted by my mother-in-law, to this life-saving campaign.
“It’s important that everyone recognize when an infant is entering the PURPLE crying phase. Parents, foster parents, caregivers and ministry social workers receive training through the program, but the goal is to broaden awareness – the more people who know about infant crying, especially inconsolable crying, the more they can support new parents during this difficult and stressful time.”
Terry Lake, Minister of Health –
“As a father, I understand that the early days and months with a new baby can be challenging for any parent. The tools provided in the Period of PURPLE Crying Program are helping to save lives by supporting parents and caregivers to understand and better cope with infant crying. I am encouraged to see so many B.C. communities raising awareness about shaken baby syndrome and supporting new and expectant parents by participating in the CLICK for Babies campaign.”
Doug Cochrane, Head of Neurosurgery, BC Children’s Hospital –
“Over the past three decades, I have had the opportunity to care for infants and children who have been injured by family members. Too often these infants have devastating injuries that leave them forever disabled. By providing families and parents with the skills to care for infants and children, the Period of PURPLE Crying Program has resulted in families better able to cope with the challenges of an infant or young child and a safer home environment for our most vulnerable.”
- Shaken baby syndrome is the leading preventable cause of physical and mental disability among infants in B.C.
- It is estimated that there are at least three to 15 children each year who suffer a traumatic brain injury as a result of shaking.
- Nearly one-third of babies die and of those who survive, approximately 80% are left with brain damage.
- The Period of PURPLE Crying Program is led by Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome BC, a program of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit at BC Children’s Hospital.
- In January 2009, B.C. became the first province in Canada to implement the Period of PURPLE Crying Program province-wide and to provide prevention materials with the birth of each baby.
- The acronym PURPLE stands for the following:
- Peak of crying – peaks during the second month, decreasing after that.
- Unexpected – comes and goes unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.
- Resists soothing – continues despite all soothing efforts by caregivers.
- Pain-like face – look like they are in pain, even when they aren't.
- Long lasting – can go on for 30-40 minutes or longer.
- Evening crying – occurs more in the late afternoon and evening.
- Users learn three action steps on how to respond to infant crying, to reduce crying as much as possible and to prevent shaking and abuse. These action steps are: carry, comfort, walk and talk with the infant; if the crying is too frustrating, it is okay to walk away; never shake or hurt an infant.
- The program materials are offered in 12 languages: English, Cantonese, French (Quebecois), Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Punjabi, Spanish (Mexican), Vietnamese, Somali, Arabic and Hebrew.
- The program is also part of the curriculum at 13 post-secondary institutions for nurses, midwives, early childhood educators and community health support personnel
Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre - CLICK for Babies cap photos:
To learn more about the CLICK for Babies public education campaign, visit: www.clickforbabies.org
More information can be found at The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome by visiting: www.dontshake.org