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Economic Downturn Could be Dangerous for IL Kids

September 20, 2011

CHICAGO - Illinois parents are being advised to seek help if economic problems seem to be leaving them with less patience for their children.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics has found a 65 percent increase in the number of traumatic brain injuries, such as shaken-baby syndrome, among infants of families studied during the recession.

Gaylord Gieseke, vice president of Voices for Illinois Children, says it's normal to feel stressed out when babies get fussy.

"Getting really frustrated with your infants and toddlers is something all parents experience, and to reach out and ask for help is a healthy, positive parenting thing to do."

If there is no one to call, Gieske says, parents who find themselves overly upset with a crying child should place that child in a safe place such as a crib and walk away for just a couple of minutes to cool down.

The brain of an infant is delicate, Gieske says, and adults can severely harm that baby without realizing it.

"If you were really shaking a 10-year-old, it's not a good coping strategy, but you might not harm a 10-year-old. You shake a baby, chances are you're going to harm the baby."

Gieseke, who also co-chairs Prevent Child Abuse America's state leaders advisory committee, says some babies are just inconsolable because it's the way they are wired.

"It's what we used to refer to as colicky babies. It's real. There are special resources for parents of those kinds of babies."

For example, Gieske says, parents who "Google" Fussy Baby Network will find a toll-free number - 888-431-BABY (2229) - to call for help. Also, the website for Prevent Child Abuse Illinois has information for parents as well as for organizations wishing to support parents. That organization will be holding a conference in Springfield next month.

Gieseke is at 312-516-5565 The Pediatrics study is online at The Fussy Baby Network is at Prevent Child Abuse Illinois is at

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL