Gundersen Health System adopts program to help new parents understand their child’s crying

Every year 1,300 babies suffer serious injuries or die because they are shaken by a parent, according to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Health experts said the number one cause is frustration over a baby’s crying.

Gundersen Health System is implementing a program called The Period of Purple Crying. The organization received a $100,000 grant from the State of Wisconsin that it plans to use to help give new parents more tools to understand their newborn child.

The program has nothing to do with the color purple. It’s an acronym that stands for Peak of crying, Unexpected, Resists soothing, Pain like face, Long lasting and Evening.

“We know that the peak of crying happens between about 2 weeks and 3 months of age,” said Dr. Jennifer Klevens, a pediatric hospitalist with Gundersen Health System. “Often times this crying can happen somewhat unexpectedly out nowhere.”

She said prolonged crying episodes are something a lot of parents deal with on a daily basis.

“This crying is actually just a part of infant development. It’s very common for babies to cry up to two to three hours at a time and not be easy to console,” Klevens said. “It tends to be in the evenings.”

The education takes place right after the baby is ready to go home and when the baby is 2 weeks old.

“It just takes a few minutes actually, and then there is an app that will help people so they can refer back to the information any time,” Klevens said.

The program teaches patience to parents when they have to deal with a crying child.

“That can be a very frustrating thing for parents,” Kleven said. “What we want to help parents know is that as frustrated as you can get, you should never shake a baby.”

Of the 1,300 cases on Shaken Baby Syndrome that happen every year, Gundersen Health System officials said 19-40 percent of those children will die, and of those who survive, 65-80 percent will suffer long term problems.

Abby Lee, outreach director with The Parenting Place of La Crosse, said her organization also offers resources to parents, such as support groups and classes.

“We offer warmlines that are available during our business hours,” Lee said. “We can talk you through problems that you are having and develop possible solutions.”

Both organizations are teaching parents proactive steps to handle the new territory of parenthood.

Gundersen Health System officials said any parent who is having trouble with their child can connect with their nurse advisor line at (608)-775-4454.

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