Put your screaming baby down and walk away: The 10-minute video that could cut shaken-baby head injuries by half

A baby's head is floppy. If shaken, tiny blood vessels can tear and bleed inside the baby's brain

Ellis Brigden was 14 when he died in May 2009. But the disabled youngster's fate had been sealed just three months after his birth when a family friend who was caring for him shook him in anger.

'When he died there was an inquest into his death,' his mother May Pleydell-Pearce said.

'It was concluded that Ellis had died as a direct result of being shaken.'

Ellis, pictured with his mother May, died aged 14 in 2009 as a direct result of being shaken as a baby

Ellis, pictured with his mother May, died aged 14 in 2009 as a direct result of being shaken as a baby by a friend of the family

Mrs Pleydell-Pearce, from Leicester, said that the act of frustration expressed by her ex-partner had changed all their lives forever.

'Ellis' injuries and Ellis' disabilities controlled everything that happened in our lives for 14 years,' she said.

'The fact I was never called 'Mum', the fact he could never touch my face and could never see me as his mum will stay with me forever.'

May and Ellis' story features in a hard-hitting DVD, which is being shown to new parents at Liverpool women's hospital before they take their baby home.

Created by the NSPCC in collaboration with Great Ormond Street, it recognises the real stress and strain that a new baby can put parents under.

Babies can scream at 110 decibels, which is nearly on par with an emergency siren. To an emotionally-exhausted and sleep-deprived parent this can soon seem unbearable.

According to the NSPCC, one in 3,000 babies under six months in the UK suffer from an inflicted brain injury or brain bleeding.

baby

blood clot

Warning: The video shows how shaking a baby can cause major damage to their fragile brains

Liz Edwards, who is matron for maternity services said: 'Adverts and TV programmes can show it all looking wonderful with smiling parents and smiling babies and the reality can be very different.'

The scheme, which could be rolled across the whole of the NHS, has been a great success in Buffalo, New York.

Here, a similar education programme saw the number of non-accidental head injuries fall by 47 per cent over five years.

The scheme, created by Professor Mark Dias, is now mandatory in New York and Pennsylvania.

Professor Dias said it was important to try and catch both parents at the hospital as fathers or father-figures are the perpetrators in 60 per cent of shaken baby cases, compared to 13 per cent of mothers.

'The male response to infant crying is fundamentally different from the female response,' he told The Guardian.

The NSPCC has launched a programme to help new parents cope with stress and show them the dangers of shaking a baby

The NSPCC has launched a programme to help new parents cope with stress and show them the dangers of shaking a baby

The UK campaign includes information on how easy it is to inflict damage on a fragile newborn.

The baby’s head is big and heavy compared to the rest of its body. Unless supported, the head flops around because the neck muscles aren’t yet strong enough to hold it still.

COPING WITH CRYING

The NSPCC says crying is the only way a baby can tell their parents how they feel or what they need. Once the obvious check are done (feeding, winding etc) they suggest…

Cuddling and singing
Gently rocking the baby in a cradle or pramWalking up and down with them in your arms or a slingPlaying music

If it becomes unbearable try…

Putting them in a safe place like a cot or pram and leaving the room until you have calmed down

Asking a friend or relative for some help

Talk to a health visitor or ring a help line like Cry-sis on 08451 228669

If the crying seems abnormal consult your health visitor. For more info click here.

Shaking makes the head move back and forth very quickly and with great force. When this happens, tiny blood vessels can tear and bleed inside the baby’s brain.

This can cause blindness, deafness, fits, learning difficulties, brain damage and death.

Ellis' mother said she noticed a difference straight away, even when he was a baby.

'He couldn't look at me any more. He didn't move,' Mrs Pleydell-Pearce said.

'As Ellis got older, he wasn't able
to sit up. He wasn't able to feed himself. He needed a feeding tube in
the stomach. He was unable to care or look after himself.'

The programme doesn't just provide a stark warning, but also information on how to cope when parents feel they've reached the end of their tether.

'If the crying ever feels too much to bear take a deep breath and let it out slowly,' the NSPCC advises in an accompanying leaflet.

'Put your baby down in a safe place like a cot or pram and go into another room but go back to check your baby if they become quiet.

'To calm yourself down, sit for a few minutes, perhaps with a cup of tea and the TV or radio. Once you feel calmer, go back to your baby.'

While the new advice is too late for Ellis, who would have been 17 next week, May hopes by sharing her story she will help prevent other children being injured.

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