What is the Period of PURPLE Crying Program?

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The NCSBS was given a challenge by their International Scientific Advisory Board to empirically test a shaken baby syndrome (SBS) prevention program that is effective and can be used in any jurisdiction or setting.

From 2003 - 2007, parallel studies were conducted on the Period of PURPLE Crying program through randomized controlled trials (RCT) PURPLEparentsin Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Delivery sites included pediatric practices, maternity departments, pre-natal classes, and nurse home visitor programs. Over 4,400 parents participated in the studies. Additionally, 25 parent focus groups were conducted to develop the new materials. The research has since been published in two prestigious, peer-reviewed journals: Pediatrics and the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The RCTs demonstrated that attractive, positive educational materials about crying and shaking are read and watched voluntarily outside of the presence of a health care professional in a high proportion of recipients, can significantly alter knowledge and change behavior that is considered key to preventing shaking.

In 2007, following encouraging results from the two randomized controlled trials, the Period of PURPLE Crying program was made available for generalized use, which includes a full color 11-page booklet and a 10-minute DVD, intended to be given to parents of new infants. The PURPLE program incorporates all of the important elements of a sound prevention program, including validated materials with positive, meaningful messages to parents. The Period of PURPLE Crying program approaches SBS and infant abuse prevention by helping parents and caregivers understand the frustrating features of crying in normal infants that can lead to shaking or abuse. The program provides the opportunity for parents to learn about the crying characteristics from over 25 years of research on normal infant crying conducted by Ronald G. Barr, MDCM, and other scientists worldwide.

The Period of PURPLE Crying is designed to be an improvement on current best practices by combining the PURPLE materials with the Mark Dias hospital-based distribution in maternity wards, but adding a second “dose” of reinforcement by public health and physician practices, and by including a public education and media campaign for the general public as the “third dose”.

The Period of PURPLE Crying program was designed and approved by pediatricians, public health nurses, child development experts, and parents. The program is:

  • Educational and attractive to parents of newborns.
  • Relevant for all parents while emphasizing the dangers of shaking a baby.
  • Clear, memorable, and meaningful with a positive message.
  • Designed to be interesting and relevant for both males and females.
  • Presented at a grade 3 language level.
  • Representative of multicultural and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Acceptable to public health nurses; no bottles or blankets.
  • Available in ten languages and includes closed captioning.
  • Economical with large quantity orders available as low as $2 per package, which includes both the full color 11-page booklet and 10-minute DVD.
  • The PURPLE program model requires that each family receives the materials in the hospital or at the time of their child’s birth so they can review the program when needed and share it with other caregivers.

The PURPLE program is comprehensive in that it comes complete with training and resources for nurses, educators, pediatricians, public health nurses and professionals in the community regularly meeting with parents of newborns and reinforcing important messages. The program also has a market-tested public education campaign, at no additional cost, including, but not limited to, print advertisements, website media, bill boards, and radio and television ads. A parent website was launched to offer additional information on infant crying, sleeping and soothing. All of the articles have been written specifically for parents by world renowned, published child development experts. This website, www.PURPLEcrying.info also provides parenting information specifically for dads.

The PURPLE program has been implemented in over 800 hospitals and organizations in 49 states, eight Canadian provinces and one Territory. The Period of PURPLE Crying program is serving 80% or more of the birthrates in North Carolina, Utah, Maine, Iowa, Kansas, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in Canada. Several jurisdiction-wide initiatives have set the goal and are working towards reaching 80% of their birthrate. These states are: Oklahoma, Washington, West Virginia, Montana (spring implementation), New Hampshire, Oregon, and southwest Ontario. To see more locations where the program is implemented, click here: Period of PURPLE Crying Implementation Map.