ICON programme launches in Barnsley

Today the ICON programme launches across Barnsley, aiming to help parents and carers cope with a crying baby. The project is being adopted across the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, including Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield and Bassetlaw. The call for resources comes after a number of infant deaths and serious case reviews where a baby has died or been seriously injured due to abusive head trauma. 

Abusive head trauma (AHT) – also known as 'shaken baby syndrome' – causes catastrophic brain injuries, which can lead to death, or significant long-term health and learning disabilities. AHT can occur in any environment when a parent or carer struggles to cope due to infant crying. 

The ICON programme provides key messages and resources to let parents and carers know that infant crying is normal, and there are methods that can be taken to cope.  Resources include leaflets, posters and video clips that will be shared with new parents at their antenatal and postnatal appointments with Midwifery and the 0-19 Public Health Nursing Service.

ICON represents: 

  • I – Infant crying is normal
  • C – Comforting methods can help
  • O – It’s OK to walk away
  • N – Never, ever shake a baby

The second phase of the programme will include work with GPs and other family services to embed the ICON message more widely. 

Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “If you’re struggling to cope with your baby crying, you are not alone. Speak to someone if you need support, such as your family, friends, midwife, health visitor or GP. The ICON programme includes simple tips that will help you stay calm and cope.  

Jayne Sivakumar, Chief Nurse at NHS Barnsley CCG said: "As a mum of four children, I understand the challenges that parents face, with long nights and early mornings when your baby won’t stop crying. It can be a really difficult time in life for lots of parents. Looking back, it would have been so good to have access to these resources and have someone to talk about what to expect and how to cope." 

Sara Collier, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Barnsley Hospital, said “In the UK there are 24 out 100,000 hospital admissions for babies which are due to Abusive Head Trauma. Abusive Head Trauma is known to cause long-term damage and even the death of an infant. The ICON programme is designed to help parents to cope with a crying baby and prevent cases of Abusive Head Trauma, as it is 100 per cent preventable. Our midwives are trained to advise parents on ways of coping with a crying infant, so parents are reminded to call family and friends, their midwife, health visitor, GP or NHS 111.” 

More information for parents and carers can be found at https://iconcope.org/parentsadvice/ 

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