New mums and dads who sometimes struggle to soothe a crying baby, are being urged to take a break and seek help.
Gold Coast doctors issued the plea overnight, in a bid to stop the cause of Shaken Baby or Abusive Head Trauma, a form of non-accidental brain injury.
Local paediatrician Dr Susan Moloney said while it was rare for a person to shake a baby with the intent to hurt them, sometimes they may be overcome with frustration and tiredness.
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“Other worries and frustrations in life can make matters worse, but this should never be taken out on infants and children. Infants and even small children can be seriously injured by shaking,” Dr Moloney said.
Gold Coast Health says an infant’s head is “big and heavy” compared to the rest of their body and unless supported, the head flops around because the neck muscles aren’t yet strong enough to hold it still.
“When a baby is shaken, their head is thrown back and forth very quickly with great force,” they said.
“This force may cause tiny blood vessels inside the baby’s brain to tear and bleed and may result in very serious health conditions, including brain swelling and irreversible brain damage.”
Dr Moloney said infants can cry up to two to three hours a day and whilst most parents will try anything to stop their baby from crying, sometimes it’s best to just walk away.
“All babies cry. It is the main way babies can tell us what they need. Finding out what your baby needs is not always easy.
“If you think you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or extremely exhausted in caring for your child please take a break.”
Resources for parents who feel overwhelmed and/or exhausted include:
- Parent Line QLD 1300 301 300 from 8am-10pm daily or web chat available daily from 8am-9pm
- 13HEALTH 13 43 25 84 available 24 hours, seven days a week
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline 1800 882 436 from 7am to midnight
- Raising Children’s Network website: raisingchildren.net.au