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Shaken Baby Syndrome

  • Definition

    This syndrome is a condition of whiplash-type injuries, ranging from bruises on the arms and trunk to retinal hemorrhages, coma, or convulsions, as observed in infants and children who have been violently shaken.


    This form of child abuse often results in intracranial bleeding from tearing or cerebral blood vessels. Physicians are required by law to report cases of suspected child abuse and are granted immunity from liability for filing such reports.

    Babies are supposed to cry - it is the only way they can tell you that something is wrong. Still, the sometimes inconsolable crying of a baby, no matter how much that baby is loved, can wear thin the nerves of the most perfect parent. While most people say they would never intentionally harm a baby, 25 to 50 percent of the American public does not know that shaking a baby, often out of anger, frustration, or as an alternative to spanking, can cause severe brain or spinal cord damage, blindness, and even death.

    shaken baby syndrome is a brain injury that results from the violent back-and-forth shaking of a baby's head. Most babies have large, relatively heavy heads with weak, undeveloped neck muscles to support them. If shaken, they have a difficult time controlling the whiplash effect of the rapid back-and-forth motion. Bleeding in and on the surface of the brain can result.

    The anatomy of infants makes them particularly vulnerable to being violently shaken. One third diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome die and one third suffer permanent brain damage.

    Shaken baby syndrome is most common in infants under the age of one, but children as old as three or four have been known to suffer from its effects. The injury is almost always accidental.


    Why is shaking so dangerous to the baby?

    Why are babies so vulnerable?

    What happens when the baby is shaken?

    Can you suggest ways of coping with crying and fussiness?

    If I feel like I'm "at the end of my rope" who can I call to get help?

    fatigue, lack of sleep, and a baby who cries a lot or who has colic, can make parents reach the end of their rope sooner than they think. Experts advise that when the going gets rough, the parents should take care of themselves and remain calm. Love the child, play with him, and have a good time, many counsel. Realize that when you get angry, as everyone does, you should put your child in a safe place like his crib or play area, and walk away for a few minutes to calm down.

    Telephone your spouse or a friend and let off some steam. Slowly, take deep breaths - if you do not feel better, take some more.

    Exercise, drink a cup of coffee or tea, read a book or magazine. Change your activity - shake a rug, scrub a floor, beat a pillow, or clean a closet. Relax, close your eyes, and think pleasant thoughts.