Shaken Baby Syndrome Facts

Shaken Baby Syndrome is the most violent form of child abuse and accounts for the majority of severe head injuries in children under 1 yr. old. It results in over 1,400 infant deaths per year alone in the U.S. and this may be only the tip of the iceberg!

Shaken Baby Syndrome results from a momentary lapse of control of a caregiver often in response to persistent crying. Frustration, anger and even rage build until they lose control.
When an infant is shaken, his head wobbles back and forth, causing the baby's fragile brain to slam against the skull wall. This can cause brain damage or brain bruising, spinal cord injuries, blindness, or even death. Some lifelong consequences of Shaken Baby Syndrome include paralysis, mental retardation, seizure disorders, and impaired motor and sensory skills. Severe damage of this type is most common in very young infants, but it may occur in children as old as 4 and 5.
Shaken baby syndrome was first described in the medical literature in 1972. Physicians earlier labeled these injuries as accidental, but as more about child abuse became known, more cases of this syndrome were properly diagnosed. Every year, nearly 50,000 children in the United States are forcefully shaken by their caretakers. More than 60% of these children are boys. The victims are on average six to eight months old, but maybe be as old as five years or as young as a few days.
Men are more likely than women to shake a child; typically, these men are in their early 20's and are the baby's father or mother's boyfriend. Women who inflict SBS are more likely to be baby sitters or child care providers than the baby's mother. The shaking may occur as a response of frustration to the baby's inconsolable crying or as an action of routine abuse.

Shaking a baby or child can result in:
   blindness or eye damage
   delay in normal development
   damage to the spinal cord (paralysis)
   brain damage

Shaken baby syndrome is a serious form of child abuse. Parents should be aware of the severe injuries that shaking can cause.

Remember, it is never okay to shake a baby!!!!!

If you or your caregiver severely or violently shakes your baby because of anger or frustration, the most important step is to get medical care right away. Immediately take your child to the pediatrician or emergency room. Don ’t let embarrassment, guilt, or fear get in the way of your child ’s health or life. If your baby's brain is damaged or bleeding inside from severe shaking, it will only get worse without treatment.Getting medical care right away may save your child ’s life and prevent serious health problems from developing. Be sure to tell your pediatrician or other doctor if you know or suspect that your child was shaken. A doctor who is not aware that a child has been shaken may assume the baby is vomiting or having trouble breathing because of an illness. Mild symptoms of shaken baby syndrome are very much like those of infant colic, feeding problems,and fussiness. Your pediatrician should have complete information so that he or she can treat your child properly.

Shaken baby syndrome is used to describe injuries suffered when a baby or child is shaken. The shaking causes the brain to bump against the skull, damaging tissue and blood vessels. The injuries can cause permanent disability or be fatal.

American Academy of Pediatrics

For information on shaken baby syndrome, contact the following groups:
- The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

- The Shaken Baby Alliance.


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