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Abusive Head Trauma / ICON

ICONNationally, abusive head trauma (AHT) affects up to 25 children per 100,000 in the UK (Kemp, 2011) and this is thought to be an underestimation. Evidence suggests that around one third of severely shaken infants subsequently die as the result of being shaken (Bonnier et al., 2003) and more than half of children aged 0-4 years injured by AHT will die before they turn 21 years old (Joyce et al., 2018). In approximately 70% of cases, males are responsible for inflicting AHT due to shaking (Al-Saadoon et al., 2011). However, depending on the research paper this figure can fluctuate anywhere between 60% and 90%.

Research suggests that infant crying, especially if the baby can not be comforted, is one of the main causes of AHT. While it is not always possible to reduce how much a baby cries, it is possible to support parents and carers to understand patterns of crying and help them cope.

The ICON programme was implemented in Hampshire in 2018 and the Isle of Wight in 2019 to help prevent AHT. It is now an established programme of interventions that reinforce the simple message making up the ICON acronym.