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Cute purple caps serve serious purpose for Oklahoma infants

The “Click for Babies, Period of Purple Crying Caps” project is an effort intended to raise awareness about normal infant crying and the dangers of shaking an infant.
by Bryan Painter Published: September 30, 2012

Penny Hill-Malone looped the purple yarn with the green crochet hook.

Never looking up, she said: “I have 11 grandchildren. I've crocheted about everything a baby needs.”

The key word was “about.” She has crocheted a newborn baby's cap, but not like the one in her hands. This one could possibly save a baby's life. Or this one might save a baby from suffering permanent brain damage. Maybe it won't. Maybe it's just be a cute little cap for a sweet little baby.

But she and other crocheters and knitters are offering their time and skills just in case “The Click for Babies, Period of Purple Crying Caps” project makes that difference.

The Click for Babies, Period of Purple Crying Caps project is an effort intended to raise awareness about normal infant crying and the dangers of shaking an infant. Volunteers can knit or crochet purple-colored newborn caps in any shade of soft, baby-friendly purple yarn.

Those can be sent to the Oklahoma Child Death Review Board. The caps will be given to parents of newborns at participating hospitals in Oklahoma that are already providing education on the topic and “Period of Purple Crying” DVDs to mothers of newborns.

Malone, who is volunteering as a crocheter, works for the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.

“I've looked at cases where babies have been shaken and died or have been shaken and survived but their life is never the same because of the brain damage,” she said. “It can happen in just a moment. That's all it takes to do this kind of damage to a baby.

“This brings awareness.”

The child death review board is collecting the purple newborn caps through Nov. 30. After they are received and determined to be safe, the caps are tagged with information about the project. So far, they've received about 600 caps. Another 1,400 are needed.

“It takes only a little bit of force and just a few seconds to cause irreversible brain damage, blindness, seizures or even death,” said Nicole Chasteen, case manager for the child death review board. “It is heart-wrenching to think that anyone could harm any child, let alone a vulnerable and defenseless infant.

“One thing that we have learned about shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma in Oklahoma is that it knows no socio-economic or racial boundaries. We see this abuse inflicted on infants of all walks of life and it is 100 percent preventable.”

The need

The mission of the child death review board is to reduce the number of preventable deaths through a multidisciplinary approach to case review.

“We are so thankful that hospitals are using Purple to educate new parents on infant crying and the dangers of reacting in frustration to crying by shaking a baby,” Chasteen said. “Purple provides reasonable suggestions for parents and caregivers to utilize in order to cope with the stress and frustration that infant crying can cause.

“It's so important to have this conversation with not only parents, but all caregivers, and plan ahead in the event that they experience these frustrating and stressful bouts of inconsolable crying.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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