By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
Never shake a keiki.
Its a powerful message, one that can save a childs life.
In the past five years, there have been about 15 cases a year of shaken baby syndrome in Hawaii. Between three and five babies die each year, and another three to five suffer from the effects of shaking, which can include mental retardation, paralysis, behavioral and learning problems, hearing loss and blindness. It is the leading cause of brain injury in the state. Often the babies are shaken in anger by their parents or caretakers.
To promote awareness of shaken baby syndrome, the Never Shake a Keiki Task Force will display two quilts in memory of children who have died and in honor of survivors. The display will be at Windward Mall from Friday to next Sunday on the lower level next to Jeans Warehouse.
The Shaken Baby Alliance, a national nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, Minn., provides support and resources to families and professionals. It began the commemorative quilts to raise awareness of shaken baby syndrome.
Prevention is linked to educating parents on normal childhood development, said Kathy Bentley, program coordinator of Parents Inc., a local nonprofit that emphasizes improving parenting skills.
Here are some signs suggested by the Shaken Baby Alliance that your child may be suffering from shaken baby syndrome:
- dilated pupils
- decreased appetite
- difficulty breathing
- blood spots or pooling of blood in the eyes
For more information, contact Childhelp USA at 1-800-4-A-CHILD, the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse at 1-800-CHILDREN or Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii at 951-0200.
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