The preventable syndrome, because children are precious

Statistically, more weddings occur in June than any other month. However, the remaining summer months also are popular months for couples to “tie the knot.”

You may be wondering what “tying the knot” and a preventable syndrome have in common - and I’ll get to that. But, right now, when you see engagement/marriage announcements in the newspaper or the mailbox, you see and think of young people who are happy and in love. These individuals have their whole life in front of them and are at the beginning stages of being a family.

The family unit continues to grow as children are added, with the addition of a newborn or perhaps an adopted infant. The rhythm of family life is changed forever from this point on. There are what seem to be constant diaper changes, feedings, bath-time adventures, playtime sessions, reading groups and hopefully, naptime. This is a very busy and wonderful time of life, but it also can be the root of stressful times.

When new parents find themselves in a stressful atmosphere with babies, that becomes the time to watch out for the preventable syndrome called Shaken Baby Syndrome. For parents, this is the time when sleep is in short supply, financial concerns may be ever-present and irritability may be running high. This, coupled with being a new parent and having someone new in the family who is completely dependent, can be tough. It’s only intensified when that new someone can only cry as a primary source of communication, leaving new parents feeling as if they’re going crazy. The build-up of new changes, responsibilities, lack of sleep and decrease in time for themselves, as they once had, can be tough.

But that’s the time to take extra precaution. Resist the desire to strike out at someone, especially the smallest, most-helpless member, to try to restore peace and quiet.

Shaking the baby or infant to try to quiet them never works. Throwing the baby or infant around never works. All you get for your effort is a child with, at least, orthopedic problems like broken bones, and at worst, a child with severe physical and mental disabilities. Children who have experienced Shaken Baby Syndrome will require physical, occupational and speech therapy services for the rest of their lives. The offender also gets jail time for child abuse, for the action of shaking the baby.

Statistics indicate that the person most responsible for this preventable syndrome is a young male adult in his early- to mid-20s who probably did not finish high school. But, don’t count out women, as they’re involved, too.

If you are newly married or engaged, congratulations. If you are planning a family or are already pregnant, congratulations as well. Take good care of yourself and that new person who will be or now is with you. But, please, when you feel tired, fatigued, short on energy and money, and at your wits end, give yourself time to regain your composure. This will prevent a preventable syndrome.

Tom Schlitt is a pediatric physical therapist with the Blount Memorial Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic at Springbrook.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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