Shaken Infant Syndrome: When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying
THE doctor confirmed what the mother already suspected. Her baby had a classic case of colic. This syndrome affects “as many as one in four children,” says the Globe and Mail newspaper of Canada. Symptoms of the condition include several hours of crying for at least three days a week. What can an anxious parent do? Pediatricians say that in many cases the parents—and child—may simply have to wait it out. But for how long?
A new Canadian study of mothers with colicky babies reveals that more than 85 percent of colic cases abated by the time babies were three months old. The research, authored by Dr. Tammy Clifford, director of epidemiology at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, also revealed that having a colicky baby leaves no lasting effect on mothers’ mental health. “By six months postpartum, they’re exactly like Moms without colicky babies,” says Dr. Clifford. “It’s almost like amnesia sets in after the crying stops.”
This new research published by Dr. Clifford and her colleagues, says the Globe, “adds important details to the scientific knowledge about colic because it shows there are three distinct classes of colicky babies: those whose condition appears and clears up some time within the three-month period; those who have persistent colic that lasts for several months without letting up; and a small group who develop colic relatively late, a few months after birth.” A follow-up study is being done to chart the development of colicky children as they grow up, and it is the latter group that is particularly intriguing.
Incessant crying is believed to be a trigger in cases of shaken baby syndrome. As reported in the Globe, “the crying itself will not harm the child, but shaking a baby violently, even for a short period of time, can cause lasting neurological damage, and even death.”
On the other hand, there may be a bright side to an infant’s crying, even if it is incessant. “Research has demonstrated that infants who cry a lot actually get a lot more attention from their caregivers,” says the Globe, with “more touching, more smiles, more talking and more holding.”
Shaking a baby by his arms, legs, or shoulders could cause serious health problems, reports El Universal newspaper of Mexico City. “Some doctors believe that many individuals with learning disorders are victims of the shaken infant syndrome.” According to pediatric specialist Juan José Ramos Suárez, “this trauma could cause brain hemorrhage and brain damage even though there are no external signs of abuse.” He adds that it could also cause hearing loss, blindness, spinal injury, paralysis, convulsions, and even death. This is because an infant’s head is relatively heavy, while the neck muscles are not very strong and cannot support the pressure of being shaken. True, an infant’s crying can be irritating. But to help caregivers, the paper suggests “three simple steps that take less than a minute: (1) Stop, (2) sit down, and (3) relax. Control your emotions instead of blowing up at the infant.” Then either take care of whatever is causing the baby to cry—perhaps by feeding him or changing his diaper—or do things that will soothe and entertain him.
HELPING THOSE WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME
The condition is named after Dr. Hans Asperger, who first described it in 1944. However, only in recent years has considerable research been done to understand and help the increasing numbers who are being diagnosed with the syndrome. Medical researchers are undecided as to whether it is a less severe form of autism or a separate disorder. As yet, no one knows what causes Asperger’s syndrome. However, it is not due to emotional deprivation nor to the way a child has been brought up.
YOU want to have friends, but making conversation is not easy. Yet, you can talk for hours on your favorite subject. Your life is governed by routine; change disturbs you. You often feel anxious and frustrated and sometimes depressed.
People misunderstand you. They call you strange, difficult, or even rude. You find it hard to understand others’ thoughts and feelings, especially as you cannot read their facial expressions or body language. Many with Asperger’s syndrome, also called Asperger’s disorder, regularly face such situations.
Those with Asperger’s syndrome look the same as anyone else, and they are often very intelligent. However, they have a neurologically based developmental disorder that affects the way they communicate with and relate to other people. The syndrome comprises a variety of characteristics, and each person is affected in a different way. Yet, it is possible to meet the challenge of living with Asperger’s syndrome. Consider Claire’s story
HELPING THOSE WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME
Take an interest in those with Asperger’s syndrome, and try to get to know them. Although they may find it difficult to initiate a conversation, recognize that such ones do want and need friends. They are not being difficult or awkward on purpose.
Be patient, and try to understand their problems. Also, be aware of your need to explain things precisely and unambiguously, since they may take what you say very literally. If a set routine needs to be changed, explain the details clearly, possibly even demonstrating the new course of action expected of them.
If you find that they are worrying obsessively about something they have seen or heard that has distressed them, encourage them to focus instead on a beautiful picture or listen to soothing music.