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Purple caps aim to educate on, prevent infant violence

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 11:50 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 11:56 a.m. CDT
(Submitted Photo)
Lydia Schaffer was the first Skiff baby to receive a purple hat from the Common Threads group.
(Submitted Photo)
Common Threads group facilitators Diana Cumpton and Kaye Swarts presented handmade purple baby caps to Skiff OB Director Ann Polking; they were joined by Skiff Hospice Bereavement Coordinator Jennifer Barnett.

People tend to associate newborns with the colors pink and blue. But for a local support group, purple is the hue they want kept in mind.

Common Threads, a grief support group through Skiff Hospice, pledged itself this fall to knit and crochet enough purple baby hats to give to every child born at Skiff in the month of November. The caps were designed to prevent cases of shaken baby violence by raising awareness among parents and guardians about intense bouts of crying experienced by many infants in the initial months after birth.

“It’s a normal but frustrating period for parents,” said Ann Polking, Skiff’s OB director. “Inconsolable infant crying is the No. 1 trigger that precedes a shaking event.”

Shaken baby syndrome occurs most often in children younger than 2 years. This form of child abuse can result in significant brain damage, blindness and death.

An acronym is used to describe various aspects of this period of “purple crying”:

• Peak of crying — Crying peaks around two months, then decreases at around three to five months.

• Unexpected — Crying comes and goes unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.

• Resists soothing — Crying continues despite any and all soothing efforts by caregivers.

• Pain-like face — Infants look like they are in pain, even when they are not.

• Long lasting — Crying can last as much as five hours a day, or more.

• Evening — Crying occurs more in the late afternoon and evening.

Skiff, already part of a statewide program to help prevent shaken baby syndrome, was happy to partner with the support group. Every handmade purple cap provided to parents at Skiff included a tag with the information above, along with tips on keeping both the adult and the baby calm and safe.

While the basic goal was to provide a cap for every baby born in November, the group ultimately made 90 items, so parents in upcoming months will also benefit.

“Our members thought this project would be a good way to give back to the community and educate new patients,” said Dianna Cumpton, founder of the Common Threads group. “We enjoyed our time together working on this.”

“Skiff is very fortunate to have such an engaged group who were willing to volunteer their time to assist in this important initiative,” Polking said.

To learn more about Skiff Medical Center, visit www.skiffmed.com or www.facebook.com/skiffmed.

See a photo of the Common Threads group on page 2A.

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