HealthDay News — A program designed to prevent abusive head trauma in North Carolina didn’t reduce rates of infant head injuries related to the abuse, according to a study published online Oct. 26 in JAMA Pediatrics.

In the new report, a team led by Adam Zolotor, MD, DrPH, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at the impact of a program aimed at preventing cases of abusive head trauma. Nearly 90% of parents of newborns in North Carolina took part in the program between June 2009 and September 2012. The program taught parents about recognizing and dealing with normal infant crying.

Two years after the program was introduced, calls to a nurse advice line for infant crying fell by 20% among parents of children younger than 3 months, and by 12% for parents of children aged 3 to 12 months, Zolotor’s team reported. However, there was no decline in the rate of abusive head trauma in North Carolina. In fact, the rate before the program was 34 per 100,000 person-years and 36 after the program.

“This does not mean that the intervention does not work. It simply means that our study did not demonstrate that it did work, and additional studies are needed to answer that question definitively,” Zolotor said in a university news release. “There are many reasons that we may not have shown a decrease in rates of abusive head trauma, including the recession, the fact that this is a rare problem, and other factors that we did not observe.”

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Zolotor AJ, Runyan DK, Shanahan M, et al. Effectiveness of a Statewide Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Program in North Carolina. JAMA Pediatrics. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.2690.

Wood JN. Challenges in Prevention of Abusive Head Trauma. JAMA Pediatrics. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3023.