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Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant

Evaluation of a Program to Prevent Abusive Head Trauma

FOA Number: CE04-046 - Grants for New Investigator Training Awards
Project Period: 8/01/04–7/31/05
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000295-01
Principal Investigator: Wendy Lane, MD, MPH
University of Maryland School of Medicine
660 West Redwood Street
Howard Hall
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 410-706-7865
Fax: 410-706-4425


Child abuse is the leading cause of serious head injury in infants and toddlers, and it is the primary cause of infant death from injury. The incidence of abusive head trauma (AHT) in infants is more than 30 per 100,000. Approximately 25% of victims die from their injuries, and the majority of survivors have significant long-term consequences. Few programs aimed at the prevention of AHT have been developed, and none has been rigorously evaluated.

The long-term objective of this project is to prevent abusive head trauma (AHT) in young children. Its specific aims are 1) to determine the effectiveness of a hospital-based program to reduce the incidence of AHT in young children, and 2) to examine the extent to which maternal risk factors affect the risk for AHT. An AHT prevention program is currently underway at one Baltimore area hospital. The program educates postpartum parents about AHT and recommends ways to manage both their infants' crying and their own possible frustration. In this project, researchers will use a case control design to systematically evaluate the program’s effectiveness. Cases will be identified by medical records search at the two Baltimore metropolitan area hospitals, where AHT cases are referred, and at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Three controls will be selected for each case. Both cases and controls will be matched to birth certificate data to determine birth hospital and maternal demographics. Rates of exposure to the intervention program among cases and controls will be compared. In addition, researchers will compare rates among cases and controls of risk factors including poverty, teenage pregnancy, late prenatal care, low birth weight, and single parenthood.