Health and wellbeing: Suzanne Smith

Health and wellbeing: Suzanne Smith

Health and wellbeing: Suzanne Smith

Introduction

Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome, is a devastating form of child abuse. Catastrophic injuries often present in a constellation including brain injury, bleeding in the eyes and certain long bone fractures and spinal fractures.

"ICON would probably not have come into being without the Fellowship" - Suzanne Smith, Fellow

Child protection expert Suzanne Smith (CF 2016) was inspired by her Fellowship to develop ICON, the first ever co-ordinated UK programme aimed at helping parents and carers to cope with a crying baby and prevent cases of AHT. Today ICON has spread to 36 regions of England covering the North, Midlands and South. Suzanne’s aim is to fully embed ICON within health and social care delivery across the whole of the UK, supported by a rigorous evaluation programme and professional management.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Suzanne adapted her ICON resources to be made available to all NHS maternity units during lockdown, at a time when stress levels at home have reportedly heightened and new parents may be struggling with crying babies. NHS England approved the resource and officially issued advice to use the ICON message as part of the Covid-19 emergency response.

As a registered nurse and health visitor, Suzanne became interested to learn about the triggers for AHT and how to prevent it. As part of her PhD, she looked at how nurses, midwives and health visitors can help parents cope with a crying baby and discovered that the UK did not have a co-ordinated national AHT prevention campaign. Suzanne’s Fellowship explored approaches to the prevention of AHT in Canada and the USA, where successful campaigns already exist.

Suzanne says, “The Fellowship has given me the inspiration and motivation to put years of study and research and a passion to protect babies from Abusive Head Trauma into practice. ICON would probably not have come into being without the Fellowship and, if it had, it would not be underpinned with the same level of evidence and knowledge that has been provided to me as a result of the Fellowship.”

"ICON would probably not have come into being without the Fellowship" - Suzanne Smith, Fellow

Child protection expert Suzanne Smith (CF 2016) was inspired by her Fellowship to develop ICON, the first ever co-ordinated UK programme aimed at helping parents and carers to cope with a crying baby and prevent cases of AHT. Today ICON has spread to 36 regions of England covering the North, Midlands and South. Suzanne’s aim is to fully embed ICON within health and social care delivery across the whole of the UK, supported by a rigorous evaluation programme and professional management.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Suzanne adapted her ICON resources to be made available to all NHS maternity units during lockdown, at a time when stress levels at home have reportedly heightened and new parents may be struggling with crying babies. NHS England approved the resource and officially issued advice to use the ICON message as part of the Covid-19 emergency response.

As a registered nurse and health visitor, Suzanne became interested to learn about the triggers for AHT and how to prevent it. As part of her PhD, she looked at how nurses, midwives and health visitors can help parents cope with a crying baby and discovered that the UK did not have a co-ordinated national AHT prevention campaign. Suzanne’s Fellowship explored approaches to the prevention of AHT in Canada and the USA, where successful campaigns already exist.

Suzanne says, “The Fellowship has given me the inspiration and motivation to put years of study and research and a passion to protect babies from Abusive Head Trauma into practice. ICON would probably not have come into being without the Fellowship and, if it had, it would not be underpinned with the same level of evidence and knowledge that has been provided to me as a result of the Fellowship.”