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Planning for Stress Can Help Prevent Child Abuse, Says Intermountain Health

Child abuse pediatrician for Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and U of U Health says planning for challenging times is critical to help prevent child abuse.

(PRUnderground) April 4th, 2024

Parents-to-be spend months getting ready for baby’s arrival, preparing a nursery, buying clothes and diapers, and so on.

But too few prepare for the stress that a new baby brings, said Dr. Tagrid Ruiz, a child abuse pediatrician for University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. Planning for challenging times is critical to help prevent child abuse.

“Child abuse is preventable,” Dr. Ruiz said. “No one plans on abusing their child, but it happens, and it might happen in my family or your family. We’ve got to start talking about the kind of stress that comes when a baby won’t stop crying. And then, we need to create a plan to help us respond to the stress rather than react to it.”

At least 1 in 7 children experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year in the United States, the CDC reports. Inconsolable crying is the No. 1 trigger for shaken baby syndrome, which is fatal in 25 percent of cases, the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome reports.

“Sometimes, babies cry and cannot be soothed, no matter what you do. This is a normal part of child development, and doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent,” Ruiz said. “Parents need to know that they are not alone. They can talk about their frustrations, and safely get through that moment with support.”

Dr. Ruiz offers these tips to help parents plan for stressful times:

– Know it’s OK to gently place baby in a crib and leave the room. The baby will be safe, and you will have a moment to yourself to regain calm. If a responsible person is home with you, leave the child in their care and go outside for some fresh air.

– Designate a safe person. This is a supportive, trusted person or group of people you can contact when you’re frustrated to talk through your feelings.

– Contact the National Parent Helpline. If you don’t have a safe person, or they cannot be reached, or you need additional support, contact the helpline at 855-427-2736 to receive emotional support from trained counselors. This service is free and offered in multiple languages.

– Go to a Crisis Respite Nursery. These are free, temporary safe havens for kids up to age 11 that parents can use when they need to attend to social, health or emotional needs. These are available at all Family Support Centers throughout the state.

“Finally, write this plan down and keep it where you can easily find it when you’re frustrated and not thinking clearly,” Ruiz said. “You’ll know you have a safety net when you need it.”

For more information, visit

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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