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Association of a Postnatal Parent Education Program for Abusive Head Trauma With Subsequent Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma Hospitalization Rates.

JAMA Pediatrics 2017 March 2
Importance: Studies suggest that a postnatal parental intervention may reduce the incidence of abusive head trauma (AHT) of infants and young children.

Objective: To assess the effect of statewide universal AHT education for parents on AHT hospitalization rates in Pennsylvania and on parents' self-reported knowledge gains and parenting behaviors.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Changes in AHT hospitalization rates in Pennsylvania before and during the intervention were compared with those in 5 other states lacking universal parental AHT education during the same period. Data were collected from maternity units and birthing centers throughout Pennsylvania from the parents of 1 593 834 infants born on these units from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2013. Parental behavior and knowledge were assessed through immediate (n = 16 111) and 7-month postintervention (n = 146) parent surveys in a per protocol analysis of evaluable parents.

Interventions: Parents read a brochure, viewed an 8-minute video about infant crying and AHT, asked questions of the nurse, and signed a commitment statement affirming their participation. Educational posters were displayed on each unit.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Changes in AHT hospitalization rates before and during the intervention in Pennsylvania and 5 other states. Secondary outcomes included self-reported knowledge gains and changes in parenting practices.

Results: A total of 1 180 291 parents (74.1%) of children ranging in age from 0 to 23 months signed a commitment statement. Incidence rate ratios for hospitalization for AHT increased in Pennsylvania from 24.1 (95% CI, 22.1-26.3) to 26.6 (95% CI, 24.9-28.4) per 100 000 children aged 0 to 23 months during the intervention period; changes in Pennsylvania were not significantly different from aggregate changes in the 5 other states, from 22.4 (95% CI, 21.2-23.6) to 22.0 (95% CI, 21.2-22.8) per 100 000 children aged 0 to 23 months. A total of 16 111 parents (21.5% men, 78.5% women) completed the postnatal survey. Despite an overall 74.1% adherence with the intervention, only 20.6% of parents saw the brochure and video and only 5.7% were exposed to the entire intervention. Among the respondents answering individual questions on the postnatal surveys, 10 958 mothers (91.0%) and 2950 fathers (88.6%) reported learning a lot about understanding infant crying as normal; 11 023 mothers (92.2%) and 2923 fathers (88.9%), calming their infant, 11 396 mothers (94.6%) and 3035 fathers (91.9%), calming themselves; 10 060 mothers (85.1%) and 2688 fathers (83.4%), selecting other infant caregivers; and 11 435 mothers (94.8%) and 3201 fathers (95.8%), that the information would decrease the likelihood of shaking an infant. Among the 143 respondents completing the 7-month survey, 109 (76.2%) reported remembering the information while their child was crying.

Conclusions and Relevance: This intervention was not associated with a reduction in pediatric AHT hospitalization rates but was associated with self-reported gains in parental knowledge that were retained for 7 months.

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