Broken Babies: Lives forever changed by abuse

Broken babies: it's a term used for children so badly abused they're admitted into the hospital and sometimes left with permanent injuries, broken forever. Health professionals in Spokane are doing what they can to try and protect this vulnerable population, which includes giving parents support and help in dealing with their children.

Doctor Michelle Messer sees the abuse first hand. She specializes in abusive head trauma or brain damage, which is usually caused when someone shakes an infant. Doctor Messer says she's seen two cases in less than a month and says she grieves every time she sees it. According to Messer, children are left blind, deaf, and unable to swallow in some cases of abusive head trauma. Doctor Messer says the abuse is unfathomable but says she knows that education may help in preventing abuse.

Sacred Hearth Children's Hospital is funding training for the Fussy Baby Network, a national program designed to support new parents by providing phone calls and home visits. Health professionals are being trained as infant-parent specialists to provide parents that support. Mental Health Therapist Christie Pelz at Partners with Families and Children, a child advocacy center, is one of about a dozen specialists who received the training.

Fussy Baby Network doesn't offer one specific antidote on how to deal with a fussy child. 

Pelz says every approach is tailored to specific families. She says the most important thing is providing that calm voice, a listening ear and support for a parent. Pelz says brochures and cards about the network are being spread around town in hospitals and family centers, including Partners with Families and Children. 

The hope is to connect stressed, frustrated and worried parents with the help they need. To learn more, contact Partners at

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