Dell Children’s Researcher Honored


George Ramirez Photography

George Ramirez Photography

The Texas Office for Prevention of Developmental Disabilities recently recognized Sarah Duzinski at its annual J.C. Montgomery Child Safety Awards, held Nov. 20 at the Texas State Capitol. Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued this news release about the awards and recipients.

When Sarah Duzinski, a research scientist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, saw a saddening number of infants arriving to the hospital for abusive head trauma, she felt compelled to do something.

Duzinski noticed abusive head trauma cases increased during a time known as, “The Period of Purple Crying”.

“The period of purple crying is a normal part of an infant’s development and actually all mammals experience it,” Duzinski said. “It’s an actual curve that starts at about two weeks, until about four months of age, and peaks at about six weeks.” 

According to hospital data, Dell Children’s treats about 2 cases of abusive head trauma each month, about 24 cases annually. And in 2014 there were nearly 600 emergency room visits where“infant crying” was listed a primary reason for the visit.

“We as a community were not addressing this issue,” she said. “We realized we needed to do some sort of education program to help parents and most importantly, to protect innocent children.”

George Ramirez Photography

George Ramirez Photography

Duzinski began researching reputable education modules to help parents understand infant crying. She took the Purple Crying education, developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, and trained Seton nurses to be able to provide the information to new parents.

Now, nurses at Seton Medical Center Williamson and University Medical Center Brackenridge offer the Purple Crying education to all families before leaving the hospital with their new baby. The education consists of a video dvd and booklet, available in 12 languages.

According to the program, PURPLE, stands for the parts that are most frustrating to parents:

P-Peak crying

U-Unexpected. Can come and go and you don’t know why it’s happening

R-Resists soothing, you might be doing everything in your power and it doesn’t matter, they still cry

P-Pain like face, baby looks like in pain

L-Long lasting, can last up to 5 hours a day and still normal

E-Clusters in the evening when parents are most tired

P-Period-has a beginning and an end

As a member of the Prevention Subcommittee of the Child Protection Roundtable, Duzinski is engaged in successful legislative advocacy for abusive head trauma prevention in Texas. She has provided training to more than 250 Texas health professionals on evidence-based abusive head trauma programming and is the founder and lead organizer of Rundberg Rising, an organization that aims to prevent violence and promote self-esteem through youth involvement in community and public art.