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Preventing non-accidental head injuries in babies

Educating parents about the risks of shaking babies

Babies are at risk of being shaken in the first few months of their life, and this can result in severe injury; at this age non accidental head injuries are the most common cause of death or long-term disability from abuse.

Evidence from other countries has shown that teaching parents about how to handle their baby and cope with stress can help to prevent babies being shaken.

Practical coping strategies for the pressures of parenthood

Studies show that as many as one in nine mothers may have shaken their baby, and two in nine may have felt like doing so. When a baby is shaken it can lead to head injury, disability and even death.

We have made a DVD about non-accidental head injuries to inform parents about:

  • the dangers of shaking a baby;
  • how to soothe their baby, and
  • how to cope with feeling stressed and tired.

Midwives and maternity staff show this film to parents of new babies in hospitals, or at home, soon after their child is born.

After the film, they discuss and answer questions, provide a leaflet with further information and ask parents to sign a statement that they've seen the DVD.

Pioneering educational programme in the UK

This is first educational programme of its kind in the UK to educate parents about dangers of shaking a baby straight after their baby is born.

The NSPCC has developed the programme with the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital and other experts. We are working with a number of hospitals across the UK to deliver the programme to new parents.

A similar programme in Buffalo, USA led to a 47 per cent drop in non-accidental head injuries to babies.

We are hoping to achieve significant falls in the number of children suffering non-accidental head injuries in the UK.

Find out more about our work with children under one

Information for professionals

Why children under one are a priority

Helping young, vulnerable first-time mums cope with the pressures of having a baby

Setting a positive parenting template for vulnerable parents-to-be

Helping parents with drug or alcohol issues gain parenting skills

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