BY REBECCA PALMER
LAYTON — After a weeklong struggle with complications such as blood clots, a failing kidney and stomach bleeding, 1-year-old Aliyah Faye Wild died on Wednesday morning in A Salt Lake City hospital.
Her mother, 20-year-old Jennifer Wild, had been at her side since she came home from work on Sept. 10 to find the child in trouble. She and her boyfriend Tyler Ryan Geary*, took the girl to Primary Children’s Medical Center, and doctors suspected abuse.
Later, Geary told police he had become frustrated with the child’s crying and had shaken her and thrown her on the bed. He was arrested, but is out on bail and has yet to be charged officially. The Clipper was unable to reach him for comment, but police said child abuse homicide charges are being considered.
Jennifer commented through a family member.
““Aliyah saved my life,” she said in the prepared statement. “Please parents, set your children down when frustrated. No child should ever have to go through the traumatic abuse that Aliyah has suffered.”
This tragic story is the latest incidence of child abuse by shaking in Davis County, but Shaken Baby Syndrome has happened to many other children in the county and around the country.
According to a North Carolina research project published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August of 2003, about 1,300 children experience severe or fatal head trauma from child abuse every year in the U.S., and one case in five is fatal. In that state, it amounted to one in every 1,000 children being hurt in this way.
The perpetrators are most often men, and most often parents or partners of parents, like Geary, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is what happens to children aged 5 and below when they are shaken vigorously. Their developing brains slam against their skulls, causing brain tissue, blood vessels, and nerves to tear.
If they don’t die, babies can end up with mental retardation, behavioral problems, cerebral palsy, blindness, seizures and much more.
According to a report publicized by the Centers for Disease Control, the cost of long-term care for a shaken baby is between $300,000 and $1 million. There is also jail time for the perpetrators, meaning that if the abuser was a parent, care for these children can become even more difficult.
The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, the go-to source for information and advocacy on the issue, is located in Farmington.
The group’s first efforts were simply to educate parents not to shake, but after research was published about the likelihood of inconsolable crying among infants, the focus changed.
Now, efforts revolve around teaching new parents about crying. The worst times for inconsolable crying, named PURPLE crying by the organization, are in the first week’s of a baby’s life. It’s normal for infants to wail without apparent cause, according to scientific studies.
New parents and the people who support them can start solving the problem by talking about it, said Amy Wicks, the non-profit organization’s spokesperson.
It’s particularly important to educate baby sitters or people, such as new fathers, who have had little experience with infants.
“Every bit of education helps,” she said. “All of us are responsible to help care for parents in their community.”
You can donate to a fund to help Jennifer pay for Aliyah’s care at America First Credit Union with account number “9062589Wild.” You can also donate via Paypal through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, can participate in a charity auction by visiting facebook.com/prayers4aliyah or send cards to 1353 N. 2140 West, Clinton, Utah, 84015.
A balloon release in Aliyah’s honor will be held Saturday “wherever you are.” The colors are pink for Aliyah, blue and white to show support to end child abuse.
*Tyler Ryan Geary, not the father of Aliyah, has been accused of abusing her. This information was reported incorrectly in an earlier version of this article.