FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2005
AUSTIN,TX--As a follow-up to a previous bill during the 76th legislative session requiring licensed child care providers to undergo training on the causes and consequences of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. yesterday filed Senate Bill 316 to include parents in that training.
Since 1999, Sen. Lucio has worked with Kathy and Mark Dittman from Harlingen on bills relating to SBS. Maggie, their two-year-old child, died as a result of SBS in 1998. Both of the Dittman's serve on the Governing Board of the Shaken Baby Alliance, a nationwide organization that provides support for SBS victim families, advocates for justice for SBS victims and increases SBS awareness.
"Because SBS is a preventable condition," said Sen. Lucio, "it is my eventual goal to raise awareness among parents and childcare givers so we can put an end to these unnecessary tragedies. These injuries can occur unintentionally, so educating parents can only help protect our families."
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), is a head injury that affects infants, babies, and young children when they are severely shaken, usually by parents or care takers. According to the New York Shaken Baby Prevention Program, approximately one in 2,600 children under five are believed to be victims of SBS, and a quarter of them do not survive. It is estimated that two-thirds of all SBS cases are perpetrated by the child's parents or guardians.
Babies under six months are particularly susceptible to SBS because their neck muscles are too weak to properly support their heads. Furthermore, infants and babies have softer brains, which further their susceptibility to brain injury. The results of SBS may include: rupture of the bridging veins between the cortex and the dura, retinal hemorrhages, seizure, unconsciousness and apnea. The effect of these injuries can be blindness, permanent brain damage and death.
The bill mandates that the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) design a brochure on SBS prevention, which would be posted on their website. Additionally, the bill requires hospitals and birthing centers to provide specific types of information about SBS to new parents. This requirement could be satisfied verbally or through the presentation of written materials. If they elected to present the information in writing, hospitals and birthing centers would have the option of using the HHSC brochure, or could create their own.
Note: Legislative Aide Katharine Volti is handling this issue for the Senator and can be reached at 512-463-0127.