As pediatricians and members of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center's board of directors, we commend The Chronicle's coverage of the iPhone "Baby Shaker" application and the focus on this deeply disturbing issue.
Each year in the United States, more than 1,500 children die after being shaken by their caretakers. These situations are often due to the caretaker's inability to cope with the child's persistent crying.
The action of rapidly shaking an infant may cause severe brain injury. If the infant does not die, shaking can cause lifelong injury, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation and blindness.
The five delivery hospitals in San Francisco have partnered with the Department of Public Health and the center to create the San Francisco Shaken Baby Project. This project educates nurses who then educate every new parent about the danger of shaking. The project provides community resources, including a 24-hour talk line - (415) 441-KIDS - to help caretakers cope with the stress of parenting.
We urge Apple to join the effort to educate the public on the dangers of shaking a baby. Perhaps they could create "an app for that," too.
CHRIS STEWART, M.D., SHANNON THYNE, M.D., San Francisco