ICON is here to help prevent abusive head trauma. This page is for professionals looking for support. ICON is an evidence-based programme consisting of a series of brief ‘touchpoint’ interventions that reinforce the simple message making up the ICON acronym.

ICON was conceived following years of study and research into the prevention of Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). The ICON founder, Dr Suzanne Smith PhD, consolidated the study and research with a visit to the USA and Canada in 2016 (courtesy of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship) to see the prevention programmes in action and to understand more about what makes such programmes a success. 

Research points to persistent crying in babies being a potential trigger for some parents/care givers to lose control and shake a baby.  It also shows that around 70% of babies who are shaken are shaken by men.  So any prevention programme should include male caregivers and use the best opportunities to reach them as well as support all parents/caregivers with information about crying and how to cope with a crying baby.

Intervention points

The full ICON programme consists of 7 potential intervention points.

  1. High School: description. Link to lesson plan and lesson
  2. Hospital Based: description. Link to leaflet and script and commitment statement
  3. Community Midwife home visit: reiteration of the 4-point message
  4. Health Visitor Primary visit: reiteration of the 4-point message
  5. Health visitor topic-specific contact: dedicated contact discussing normal crying and exploring how parents/caregivers are coping.
  6. GP 6/8 week check
  7. Any professional involved with babies to provide opportunistic support/advice.

A wider public health awareness campaign using the materials provided will support these interventions.

Although some areas may not choose not to adopt all elements of the programme, the hospital-based intervention has been shown in previous studies to be crucial in engaging with male caregivers.  A simple ‘script’ which takes 5-8 minutes to deliver is available to help professionals or volunteers get the ‘coping with crying’ conversation started.  This should incorporate the safe sleep message detailed in the ICON leaflet.

The programme is currently being piloted in 5 areas of the country and is being evaluated by a follow-up survey of parents.

ICON is now being used extensively throughout the country.  If you want to adopt ICON in your area please do get in touch and a representative will contact you to help get you started!

Ellis’ Story

Some may find this video distressing. Viewer discretion is advised