Missoula’s Birth Center among organizations recognized for shaken baby prevention

The Period of PURPLE Crying program is an evidence-based prevention program focused on the fact that babies cry. This month – National Child Abuse Prevention Month – it’s being recognized as an important part of preventing the physical abuse of infants.

Specifically, the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome recognized our humble state “for its efforts to prevent shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma.” The official recognition came earlier this week at the statewide Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference, which was held in Missoula this year.

There, NCSBS lauded the efforts of Montana groups to educate key people – hospital staff, agencies and parents – about normal infant crying patterns. The Birth Center in Missoula is one of 20 groups in Montana that use the PURPLE program.

Healthy Mother Healthy Babies-Montana is another, and in a news release that went out earlier this week, executive director Synness had this to say:

“To date, PURPLE MT has partnered with 20 out of 29 birthing hospitals and clinics across Montana to deliver the Period of PURPLE Crying program to over 7,100 new parents. We believe that the education and materials provided through the Period of PURPLE Crying program will make a profound difference in the lives of Montana families and will provide parents and families with the information, support and the tools they need to provide the healthiest and safest start for their baby.”

Julie Price, International Program Director for the PURPLE program at the NCSBS, added: “It is such a privilege and pleasure to work with these organizations and professionals in Montana. The NCSBS recognizes how much collaboration it takes to implement this program in hospitals, to reinforce key messages in the community, and also to create a cultural change with public education campaigns. It takes a lot to sustain a statewide prevention program, and we greatly appreciate everything they do.”

According to the release, “SBS/AHT is a form of child abuse caused by the violent shaking of a baby or small child, usually by an adult frustrated by the baby’s crying. The Period of PURPLE Crying aims to educate parents about the normality of early increased crying during the first months of a baby’s life, and the associated frustration. The program also seeks to teach parents techniques to soothe a baby, and healthy ways to cope with the crying when cry bouts cannot be soothed.

“For more information about the Period of PURPLE Crying program, please visit PURPLEcrying.info.”

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Juniors get to take ACT for free for second year in a row

Oh, the SAT, ACT and all those other tests. For many students, the only thing worse than being forced to take a test is having to pay for the privilege. The ACT alone can cost up to $50 bucks a pop.

Fortunately, Montana landed a grant that allows it to offer free ACT tests for four full years. This is the second year Montana’s public-school students in their junior year of high school get to take the test, fee-free.

Testing starts tomorrow! From the Montana Office of Public Instruction:

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Missoula couple named Foster Parents of the Year

Wow, congratulations – and thank you – to Kim and Tyson Moore. The Missoula couple are this year’s Montana Foster Parents of the Year.  So if you see them around town with their kids – they have two bio kids, a foster kid and are adopting a 1-year-old foster child – give them a round of applause.

Another Missoulian you’ll want to applaud: Cori Stern, who is being given the CASA Volunteer of the Year award.

Read on for more details on the awards ceremony this Monday, as well as the full list of Montanans receiving awards for their work preventing child abuse and neglect:

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Easter egg hunts

Saturday’s temperature is supposed to be higher than Sunday’s, but the kiddos can probably work up a sweat running in search of Easter eggs either day — and you won’t freeze watching from the sidelines.

Check out the list of community egg hunts here.

Happy hunting!

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Prescription Drug Misuse Awareness Week

Did you know that the average age kids start misusing prescription drugs is 12? Or that 300 Montanans died last year because of prescription drug misuse?


Missoula Underage Substance Abuse Prevention and The Missoula Forum for Children & Youth are shining the light on prescription drug misuse and abuse this week with several events, including a summit and a community conversation.

Already MUSAP, along with several other organizations, is working to prevent the prescription drug abuse epidemic from growing and has put out a Parent Resource Guide, which is chock-full of tips on how to talk to kids about prescription drugs, alcohol and more.

The guide is intended to be used frequently, said Brandee Tyree, MUSAP’s coordinator.

Feedback from the community has been mixed about the guide, but overall positive, Tyree said.

Some parents tell her, “Gee, thanks for giving me something else to worry about,” she said.

But, knowing what issues kids are facing, how to talk to them about the issues and doing so continually ultimately leads to a healthier, safer community.

See the resource guide here.

And if you want to share thoughts on prescription drug abuse issues, go to the Safeguard our Kids, Safeguard our Prescriptions community conversation from 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at the City Life Community Center, 1515 Fairview Ave.

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St. Pat’s back in the baby business

Women will have another choice about where to give birth as soon as next year.

Providence St. Patrick Hospital announced Monday that they will begin offering comprehensive women’s and children’s services, including inpatient obstetrical and newborn care, with a Level II neonatal intensive care unit; an expanded inpatient and outpatient pediatric program; and outpatient obstetrical/gynecological and perinatology care.

Comments are already flying about motivations for the new services.

Supposedly, St. Pat’s was on a short list of contenders to partner with CommunityMedicalCenter, which recently announced a merger with Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners. Community’s announcement was a disapointment to St. Pat’s, but the hospital released a statement that they are as committed as ever to providing quality care to western Montana residents.

According to CommunityMedicalCenter leadership, Missoulians said they wanted to maintain choice for health care services when the hospital was mulling the best partnership option.

Providence Western Montana’s chief executive Jeff Fee said in a written statement that the move to offer more women’s and children’s services positions St. Pat’s to provide patients with a broad range of services from one, coordinated health care system.

Welp, I’d say we got choice — and heightened competition. Here’s hoping it leads to innovative, affordable care.


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Exercise and buckles

Water aerobics sounded like a great idea for a way to de-stress and get our heart rates up, so I grabbed a towel and my suit on my way out the door for work Thursday.

At 4:30 p.m., with a 6 p.m. meeting looming, water aerobics sounded like they would get in the way of eating dinner, but I had already missed class Tuesday.

To go or not to go?

In the end, my shoes swayed me.

On Monday I bought a pair of sturdy, sensible Danskos that should be comfy through the end of my pregnancy and the heat of August.

Thursday afternoon, I bent over to rebuckle them after earlier kicking them off under my desk.

Let’s just say that if I want to reach the buckles in August I should go to water aerobics way more often.

And in the spirit of healthy lifestyles — the Missoula Family YMCA is holding its Healthy Kids Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday with lots of booths and fun activities (including pony rides and pancakes) for free!

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Free admission to Children’s Museum this Friday

The weather in Missoula looks … iffy … today. It’s supposed to be sunnier, but colder, by the weekend. But who knows for sure?

If you’re looking for a bad-weather contingency plan, take note that the Children’s Museum is offering free admission this Friday.

As usual, the water table, dinosaur dig, treehouse, dentist/doctor room and tons of other great exhibits will be available for kiddos to explore. Also, for those who don’t have work or school in the late morning, there’s a taekwondo class taught by Master Corbin starting at 11 a.m.


Five Montana elementary schools attending ‘Veggie U’

Sustainable agriculture, healthy food choices, hands-on science.

It all adds up to “Veggie U,” which I learned yesterday is making its foray into fourth-grade classrooms in Arlee, the Gallatin Gateway, Helena, Lakeside and Wilsall. Students in the five-week program learn about growing food while tending their own gardens.

Read on for the full press release:

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Sometimes a girl just needs her mom

For the past five months I have felt like a girl again as I struggle to find clarity in the uncertainty that being pregnant brings.

Am I ingesting enough vitamins? Will Bob be healthy even if I don’t always sleep on my left side and occasionally eat French fries? Will my water break when my husband is busy in a harvest field on the Hi-Line and unreachable by phone? If I haven’t felt Bob kick yet does that mean something’s wrong? Will labor hurt as much as everyone says? What do I do with Bob at home? How do I raise a kind, functioning human being? As much as I love my job, will I want to be home with Bob more? How will my husband and I adjust to the new family dynamic?

So it was with great joy I spent the past 12 days with my mother who flew out to rub my belly bump, make sure I’m exercising and eating right, and assure me that if she could raise three kids I can manage one.

When I returned to the house after dropping her off at the airport for her return flight I curled up in my husband’s arms and broke into tears.

Are you alright, Jared asked.

Yes, I just miss mom already, I said.

Is that all, he asked.

Yes, I managed to say between sniffles while Jared patiently waited for the something else he knew I was holding back.

I’m scared, I said. Having mom here was comforting.

I’m scared, too. I have no idea how to raise babies, Jared said. But I’m willing to learn.

His comment reminded me of a conversation with mom during her visit. I admitted I was in more than a bit of denial that our lives are about to irrevocably change and unsure about everything. I often feel selfish and ungrateful for the precious gift that is Bob because I’m scared and anxious instead of blissful and overjoyed.

None of that matters, mom said.

Just love him.


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