PURPLE brings awareness to frustrated parents of infants

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
It's the middle of the night, and there is no sign of sleep. Two parents are helplessly sitting defeated on the bedroom floor. In a crib in the corner of the room is a crying, wailing, gum-gnashing infant donning a purple cap.

They tried everything: baths, swaddling, bouncing and snuggling, desperately trying to get the baby to stop crying. Yet still, nothing would sooth the upset infant. Emotions are high. Frustration and exhaustion setting in, and then it happened. One of the parents stood up, picked up the baby and impulsively ...

This is only one of many possible scenarios that could result in Shaken Baby Syndrome. According to a study conducted by the National Center of Disease in North Carolina during 2003, as many as three to four children a day experience severe or fatal head injury from child abuse in the United States.

The most common trigger for shaking a baby is inconsolable or excessive crying -- a normal phase in infant development. This syndrome is the result of violent shaking that leads to a brain injury, which is much like what an adult may sustain in repeated car crashes.

The Twisted Needle Knockers is a group here that volunteers their time to knitting and crocheting purple infant caps in an effort to raise awareness for SBS.

A member of the group, Margie Manning, says they just started this project. To her, it is about keeping parents informed. Margie says she takes pride in knowing that they may have helped save one child by bringing awareness to the syndrome with their purple knitted caps.

The purple infant caps are created and given to expecting parents through the Mike O'Callaghan Federal Medical Center as a way to remind them that children are fragile.

"The cap is a visual," said Terry Lowe, 99th Medical Operations Squadron. "When children have this on, the idea is it will remind the parents to not be impulsive."

The purple color signifies the acronym PURPLE which stands for the different periods of crying, which are; Peak of crying, Unexpected, Resists soothing, Pain-like face, Long lasting and Evening. These types of crying are known as the period of PURPLE crying. The crying begins at two weeks of age and can continue until about three to four months of age.

In the scenario above the parents were able to overcome the exhausting situation due to recognizing the purple cap. The parents were able to identify the type of crying the infant was showing due to the knowledge they obtained through programs provided by Family Advocacy.

Family Advocacy offers several different programs for expectant mothers and fathers. The classes touch on subjects such as SBS and ways to prevent impulsive reactions to a child that cannot be soothed.

"When I approached the group about doing this, I had someone ask, 'Well, we don't have very many of these (Shaken Baby Syndrome) cases do we?' and I said, 'to me one is too many,'" Lowe explained.

With the support of the Twisted Needle Knockers, Lowe decided to face installation commanders at a meeting and pitched the purple cap project idea. ¬

Since then, the group has provided approximately four dozen caps in the few short weeks the purple cap project has been active. The group is always looking for more volunteers to further the awareness of SBS.

The Twisted Needle Knockers meet every Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chapel and they welcome new members and volunteers. For information on classes held at Family Advocacy call 702-652-3880.