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3 Things "Good" Parents Do That May Harm Their Child

|Parents And Guardians - Are You Aware Articles
Niki Smidt

April 12, 2004

Almost everyone has seen adults playfully tossing infants into the air and catching them. Growing knowledge of the development of infants' and young children's brains indicate, however, that this form of play may be harmful. Here are some tips from Childhelp USA®.

According to Chris Monaco, Ph.D., Director of the Childhelp USA® National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD®, infants are especially susceptible to injuries from shaking during the first 12 months of life. (Children as old as 4 years of age may also be at risk of brain damage from violent shaking.)

Because infants' heads are large and their neck muscles are weak, any strong whiplash motion may cause blood vessels to tear, creating bleeding in the brain. Shaking a baby may result in death, brain damage, paralysis, seizures, blindness, deafness, mental retardation, motor dysfunction, or learning and developmental disabilities. There are often no external physical signs of trauma (e.g., bruises, skull fractures, swelling). The only indicator may be flu-like symptoms.

These same injuries often result from a form of child abuse called Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), which is caused when someone violently shakes an infant—often when the baby won't stop crying.

Childhelp USA® also cautions parents and caregivers not to:

  • Play "airplane" by holding the child by the wrist and ankle and swinging them around.
  • Violently shake a child who has stopped breathing, due to an accident or illness (such as a very high temperature). Instead of shaking the child, call 9-1-1 (or your local emergency service, if a different number) and immediately begin CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

For information about child abuse or tips to calm a crying child, call the Childhelp USA® National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD® (1-800-422-4453). All calls are anonymous and toll-free. In addition, state-of-the-art technology provides translators in 140 languages. Professional counselors offer crisis intervention, information, literature and referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Accessibility to the hearing impaired (TDD line) is available at 1-800-2-A-CHILD (1-800-222-4453). 


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