Brunswick hospital collects caps for infant abuse awareness

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BRUNSWICK — Purple infant caps abounded at Mid Coast Hospital on Nov. 18, part of a campaign to prevent infant abuse.

About 240 caps have been knitted since summer and donated to the hospital through Midcoast Maine Community Action’s Families CAN! program.

The program offers information on child abuse and neglect issues, along with prevention, and is part of the national Click for Babies: Period of PURPLE Crying campaign. The initiative, named for the clicking of knitting needles, brings knitters and crocheters together to create and donate caps for infants.

The “PURPLE” period encompasses a child’s life from about two weeks of age to three or four months, when a baby goes through increased crying. While clickforbabies.org notes that this level of crying is considered normal, it can be a trigger for abuse by frustrated parents or caregivers.

PURPLE stands for elements of a baby’s behavior during this period: P is for Peak of crying, U for Unexpected (when crying can come and go without explanation), R for Resists soothing (when nothing seems to help the baby stop crying), P for pain-like face (a baby may look to be in pain, even when not), L for Long lasting (up to five hours a day or more), and E for evening (when crying is more likely to occur).

Parents of newborns receive both a cap – donated by knitters around the Mid-Coast recruited by Families CAN! – and an educational DVD that delivers the PURPLE message.

“Maine was the first state in the country to have every birthing hospital on board with educating parents about this,” said Eileen Delaney, director of Mid Coast Hospital’s maternity department. “And that particular year we did see a decrease in (infant) head trauma.”

She noted that while the normal instinct is to pick an inconsolable baby up, often it is better to leave the child in the crib, close the door, walk away and take a break for a few minutes, and then go back and check on the child.

Delaney said babies at that stage are “physically, neurologically and emotionally disorganized,” prompting their intense level of crying.

For more information, contact Marie Martin, family educator at Families CAN!, 442-7963 or marie.martin@mmcacorp.org. To donate caps call Delaney at 373-6527.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Infant abuse prevention advocates received the latest of about 240 knitted caps Nov. 18 that were donated to the cause. From left to right are: Eileen Delaney, director of Mid Coast Hospital’s maternity department; Marie Martin, family educator with Midcoast Maine Community Action’s Families CAN! program; and Candice Carpenter, director of adminsitative services at Midcoast Maine Community Action.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.