Campaign to help prevent abusive head trauma in babies to be launched

A new campaign is being launched to help prevent abusive head trauma in Sussex by helping parents and carers to understand why babies cry, and providing advice for how to cope.

Research suggests that some parents/care givers may lose control when a baby’s crying becomes too much, and this momentary lack of control may result in a baby being shaken with devastating consequences.  Shaken baby, now referred to as Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), can cause catastrophic brain and physical injuries, which may lead to significant long-term health needs, learning disabilities or even death. 

The Sussex CCGs and their local partners are launching the campaign so practitioners in the county can learn how they can use the ICON programme to support families to cope with a crying baby, and to share the programme’s techniques and the simple message making up the ICON acronym:

IInfant crying is normal and it will stop
CComfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop
OIt’s OK to walk away if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is  getting to you
NNever ever shake or hurt a baby

The campaign launch comes during a global pandemic with measures taken to contain and delay the spread of COVID-19 presenting major stressors for families.

Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for Sussex NHS commissioners said: “We are launching this important campaign in collaboration with local partners to help parents and carers to cope with a crying baby.

“AHT is not restricted to specific socio-economic groups – it can occur in any environment, when a parent or carer is on the edge due to infant crying. The impact of the pandemic and the different lock downs imposed can be far reaching for all families. It is usually a momentary loss of control from a tired and stressed adult”.

“This is why the ICON campaign is so important in offering advice and guidance, which has proved successful.”