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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to provide forthwith for the prevention of shaken baby syndrome, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health and convenience.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 111 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following definition:-
“Shaken baby syndrome”, a form of abusive head trauma, characterized by a constellation of symptoms caused by a non-accidental traumatic injury resulting from the violent shaking of and impact upon an infant or child’s head.

SECTION 2. Said chapter 111 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 24J the following section:-

Section 24K. (a) The department of public health shall collaborate with the department of social services, the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund, other state agencies serving families and children, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, human service providers, and child advocacy organizations to develop and implement a comprehensive, state-wide shaken baby syndrome prevention initiative to reduce death and disability resulting from shaken baby syndrome. The initiative shall be subject to appropriation and shall include, but not be limited to:-

(1) the institution of a program to educate patients concerning shaken baby syndrome prevention, provided that parents or guardians of a newborn shall, by the time of discharge from a hospital or birth center, receive education and materials to be developed by the department of public health describing the dangers of shaking infants and children and the risks associated with shaken baby syndrome. Education and materials shall include, but not be limited to, information concerning the medical and physical effects of shaking infants and children, appropriate methods of handling infants and children, methods of preventing and reducing the risk of shaking infants and children, and the availability of community-based programs and other resources to prevent shaken baby syndrome;
(2) the institution of education and training programs concerning the prevention and diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome for parents, caregivers, health care providers, and other professionals who serve or have contact with children and families, and the department of public health shall develop necessary educational materials;
(3) the development of a program to support and serve victims and families affected by shaken baby syndrome; and
(4) the creation of a surveillance and data collection program to measure the incidence of shaken baby syndrome and traumatic brain injury in infants and children.

(b) No caregivers, health providers, or other professionals serving children and families who provide education or report information related to the department’s surveillance process shall be liable in any civil or criminal action, if the actions were required by this section and made in good faith.

(c) The department of public health may adopt regulations to implement this section. The department shall consult with a statewide advisory group of interested parties before implementation of the initiative and the regulations adopted under this section. The department shall, in consultation with the department of social services and the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund, conduct an annual evaluation of the shaken baby syndrome prevention initiative and shall report annually to the governor concerning the activities undertaken as part of the initiative and the results of the annual evaluation. A copy of the report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate no later than February of each year.

Approved November 16, 2006.