2004-07-02 / Community

Pheffer Assaults Shaken Baby Syndrome

Pheffer Assaults Shaken Baby Syndrome

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced Assembly passage of legislation that she supported requiring hospitals and birth centers to request that maternity patients and fathers view a video presentation on the dangers of shaking infants (A.10889).

The legislation has been approved in the Assembly as well as in the State Senate.

"Between one-fourth and one-third of Shaken Baby Syndrome victims die, and it’s a problem that is growing," Assemblywoman Pheffer said.

"Of the infants that survive this brutal act, more than half suffer from severe injuries and impairments, such as blindness, paralysis and mental retardation.

The Assembly’s legislation would educate soon-to-be parents on how dangerous shaking a baby is. I strongly urge the governor to sign this bill into law."

Currently, hospitals and birth centers must present prospective parents with an information leaflet on shaking infants.

The Assembly’s bill would require health care centers to ask prospective parents to watch a video and have them sign a form saying they either watched it or refused. The forms would then be delivered to the state Department of Health.

The legislation would also: require that the baby shaking videos be approved by the state health commissioner; mandate that the commissioner distribute appropriate training materials and forms to the hospitals and birth centers; and require that the percentage of parents who watch the video be included in the information leaflet distributed to maternity parents.

"Many people don’t realize that when they take their frustrations out on a baby by shaking them, serious consequences could ensue." said Pheffer. "By presenting information in a non-threatening way, it’s more likely that infant caregivers will stop and think about what they’re doing, and baby shaking cases will decrease.

"An informational video is an effective way to get the very important message across that one moment of frustration and anger can result in death or severe disability for the child that you love," Assemblywoman Pheffer concluded.

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