VANCOUVER - Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux was joined by elementary school students, volunteers, moms and babies for a purple cap knit-in today at BC Children's Hospital.
The annual Click for Babies - Purple Caps Knit-In event helps to raise awareness of shaken baby syndrome and how to prevent it.
Since its full implementation in January 2009, the breakthrough Period of PURPLE Crying Program has helped reduce the number of cases of abusive head trauma in B.C. infants six months and younger by 58 per cent.
About 45,000 babies are born in British Columbia each year. All parents of newborns in B.C. receive a copy of the DVD, which includes a 17-minute film on ways to soothe their babies and an 11-page booklet called 'Did you know your infant would cry like this?' before being discharged from the hospital. To date, approximately 170,000 B.C. families have received these materials.
Through the DVD and booklet, new moms and dads learn that it is never okay to shake a baby. The program helps parents and caregivers understand that babies can cry a great deal, up to five hours a day in the first two to five months of life. The training tools explain that the characteristics of infant crying are normal, temporary and not the fault of the caregiver.
The B.C. government has invested $1.6 million since 2008 to implement the program in all B.C. health units and birthing hospitals. The program is led by the Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome BC program at BC Children's Hospital.
Additional funders and in-kind contributors include the National Centre on Shaken Baby Syndrome, the Ministry of Health, the BC Injury Prevention Unit, BC Children's Hospital and Child Health BC. The Rick Hansen and Vancouver Foundations also provided one-time funding to the program.
As part of the annual knit-in event, elementary school students and volunteers knit purple caps and create handwritten cards for newborn babies. The caps will be given to babies in hospitals and public health units in November and December. Last year, approximately 8,000 caps were created and distributed to families.
Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) staff are proud knitters and contributors to the program. This year, MCFD staff throughout B.C. knitted 500 purple caps for the cause.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"This program is an important resource that helps educate parents and caregivers about normal infant crying, especially inconsolable crying, and how to handle it. Since its full implementation in 2009, the Period of PURPLE Crying Program has helped to save the lives of babies in B.C. As a government, we are proud to help support this worthwhile program."
Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Health -
"Becoming a new parent is a wonderful experience. It can also be a very overwhelming and stressful time. This program gives parents and caregivers the supports they need while providing them with simple steps that can help soothe their baby. Our goal is to help parents cope with the stress that can often accompany the beginning of parenthood."
Marilyn Barr, founder and director, Period of PURPLE Crying Program -
"The financial support from the B.C. government has been an investment in saving babies lives. Shaking an infant can cause serious brain injury, even death. The program also supports parents through a very difficult time when their babies can cry more than any other time in their lives."
To learn more about the Period of PURPLE Crying Program, and how to get involved, go to: www.dontshake.ca/index.php.
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Facts on the Period of PURPLE Crying Program
- In January 2009, B.C. became the first province in Canada to implement the Period of PURPLE Crying Program provincewide and to provide prevention materials with the birth of each baby.
- The program materials are offered in 10 languages: English, Cantonese, French (Quebecois), Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Punjabi, Spanish (Mexican), Vietnamese and Somali.
- 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 is a part of the curriculum at 13 post-secondary institutions for nurses, midwives, early childhood educators and community health support personnel.
- Foster parents and Ministry of Children and Family Development social workers also receive training.
- 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 are not.
- Long-lasting - can go on for 30 to 40 minutes and longer.
- Evening crying - occurs more in the late afternoon and evening.
Training in B.C.:
- 3,334 maternity and public health nurses have completed program training.
- 130 First Nations communities have received program resources.
- 18 B.C. foster parent associations continue to provide training to foster parents.
- 139 foster parents have completed program training via online modules, bringing the total trained since implementation to 1,391.
- 870 MCFD staff have completed training via online modules.
- Staff from 44 community-based family support centres, 48 infant/child development programs, 38 pregnancy outreach programs, 48 community centres and 39 Child Care Resource and Referral centres have completed training.
Ministry of Children and Family Development