DES MOINES — Gov. Chet Culver has signed into law a measure designed to prevent deaths by shaken baby syndrome.

In signing the measure on Thursday, Culver said shaken baby syndrome is blamed for nearly half of the infants slain in Iowa. Even those who survive such abuse can deal with health effects throughout their lives.

“This is simply unacceptable,” Culver said. “These are more than just statistics. These are our kids.”

The governor said that between 1997 and 2005, shaken baby syndrome was listed as the cause of death in 47 of the 112 infants who were killed.

The measure directs the Department of Public Health to create a shaken baby syndrome prevention program. The effort will offer help to new parents on issues such as anger management and alternative ways of dealing with stress.

“For the first time, these resources will be made available statewide to people who choose to take part in this voluntary program,” he said.

Culver was joined at a signing ceremony by wife, Mari, who has made programs for women and children at risk her top priority as first lady.

“Shaken baby syndrome is a wholly preventable tragedy,” she said.

Shaken baby syndrome refers to episodes where infants are shaken violently, causing often-fatal damage to brains the are still forming.

“For children who survive, their lives are often difficult,” the governor said.

The measure sailed through the Legislature with little opposition, largely because it doesn’t include money to start the new program.

That means state officials will have to cobble together a program without any additional money or staffers.