Sunday, 26 December 2010

SBS: New Zealand: Adam Lock

Sun, 19 Dec 2010
By Brook Sabin
A mother whose five-week-old baby was shaken to death by her former partner has spoken out - exclusively to 3 News - hoping her message will affect every parent and save lives.
It's estimated around 3000 New Zealand babies are shaken each year - a number officials are trying to reduce with a major new campaign.
Shannel Tata asked that we black out her face for the interview, it's a big thing for her to talk to us about her son Jayhris.
Six photos are all she has left of him after he was shaken to death by her former partner.
“My son was only five-weeks-old, he was innocent - he was helpless,” she says before speaking about her partner. “I hate - I just hate him.”
In October, 22-year-old Adam Lock was jailed for seven years for Jayhris's manslaughter.
Infants are so vulnerable to being shaken because their neck muscles are too weak to support their disproportionately large heads and their young brain tissue and blood vessels are extremely fragile.
It's a problem which experts say is grossly unrecognised.
“The most concerning fact is that in New Zealand, among Maori children particularly, the rate is arguably the highest in the world,” says Dr Patrick Kelly, a Paediatrician at Starship Children’s Hospital.
Around 20 shaken infants are admitted to hospitals with serious or fatal injuries each year.
But international research indicates the true number of New Zealand children being shaken is around 3000.
Dr Kelly says many parents don't seek medical help - thinking they haven't caused any damage.
“What people don't realise of course is the damage that they cause from that head injury might be still with the baby and have an affect on them for life,” he says.
Auckland Hospital is spearheading a major new campaign which involves a meeting of all new parents to educate them about the risks.
The programme has been a huge success in New York state, where it first started, reducing rates there by almost 50 percent.
It's welcome news for Mrs Tata, who never wants to see another parent go through the turmoil she has.

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