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Safe Babies New York

Infants are among the most vulnerable of populations as they are completely dependent upon others for their safety. Two of the most tragic disorders of infancy are Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), and Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Infancy (SUDI), also known as Sudden Infant Death (SIDS).

Illustration of family huggingAHT is a severe form of child abuse in which an infant, most often under 1 year of age, is violently shaken, slammed, or thrown, resulting in death for approximately 25% of such infants and severe neurological impairment in at least 50% of survivors. The costs for medical care, legal proceedings and incarceration of the perpetrator and the breakup of the entire family impose significant costs to both the family and society. The work we have done in this area shows that an effective prevention program can save both lives and money.

SUDI involves the death, or near death, of an infant, again most often less than 1 year of age, most commonly due to suffocation or entrapment. Reports of infant deaths due to unsafe sleep practices are increasing. In the state of New York, almost half of infant deaths had unsafe sleep conditions documented within the context of the investigation. Like AHT, the greatest risk for sleep related death is during the baby’s first year, and a perinatal parent intervention would therefore afford a significant opportunity to change parents’ behaviors and lead to a reduction in sleep-related deaths.

The New York Shaken Baby Prevention Project was founded in 1998 by Mark S. Dias, with the purpose to educate parents of all infants born in hospitals in the eight county region of Western New York about the dangers of violent infant shaking. The premise is that parents who were taught about AHT during the intense bonding time before being released to home would be less likely to shake their baby, and could become effective advocates in disseminating this information to all those who might be in the position of caring for their child.

This well-established, nurse-driven model has expanded to include parent education about safe infant sleep practices. The new Safe Babies New York program will now combine parent education for both AHT and safe sleeping practices. This effort is responsible for all 55 maternity hospitals in 48 counties of Upstate New York. Nurses in all maternity units in the involved counties, who are already providing education about the AHT materials, will provide this education alongside the information they are already providing on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

All parents– will be offered a written brochure that covers the educational materials. Parents will also be asked to view two short videos, one on each of the two topics that also review these same concepts. Educational materials have been revised to add information about safe sleep. Finally, parents will be asked to sign a ‘Commitment Statement’ affirming their participation in the program. This Commitment Statement includes documentation about both AHT and safe sleep practices. These signed statements are then returned to the Co-Coordinators of the program monthly by the nursing staffs at participating hospitals and are used to track hospital compliance.

Safe Babies New York plans to monitor the incidence of both AHT and SUDI among the 17 counties of Western New York and the Finger Lakes region, and hopes to demonstrate a reduction in SUDI comparable to the nearly 50% reduction in the AHT incidences previously demonstrated.

Kim Smith RN (Email:
Program Coordinator

Kathy DeGuehery RN (Email:
Program Coordinator

To order support materials please contact the vendor listed below:
Commitment Statements, Crying Cards, Brochures and Posters:
North Delaware Printing
645 Delaware St.
Tonawanda, NY 14150
Phone: (716) 692-0576

Never Shake a Baby

Being a new parent is exciting but can be nerve-wracking and stressful too. Three seconds is all it takes to change a life forever. Learn how to deal with the stress that comes along with a new baby and make sure others who care for your baby know how to prevent shaken baby syndrome too.

Watch Video  

As Simple as A B C

About 90 babies die each year in New York State from sleep-related causes. Right from the start, help your baby sleep safely every time sleep begins.

Watch Video  


In the News

The Upstate New York Shaken Baby Syndrome Education Program was featured in the Nov/Dec 2009 edition of MCN Journal.

Pediatrics Journal

Articles published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: