Posts Tagged preventing shaken baby syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Posted by on Thursday, 15 April, 2010

Shaken baby syndrome: Is an extreme form of child abuse caused by the violent shaken of an infant or child.

Shaken baby syndrome can occur in as little as five seconds of shaking. Injuries usually occur in children younger than 2 years of age but have be seen in children up to the age of 5. When a child is shaken their brains can bounce back and forth inside their skulls causing bruising to the brain, also known as a cerebral contusion, this causes swelling, pressure and bleeding inside the brain. If the larger blood vessels on the outer region of the brain tear, this can cause additional swelling, bleeding and pressure sometimes causing permanent brain damage and even death. Other areas of the body can also be affected such as the neck, eyes, and spine.

In some cases, it’s an angry parent or caregiver that shakes the baby to punish or quiet them. Such shaking usually takes place when the baby is crying inconsolably and the frustrated caregiver finally loses control. Research has shown that a crying baby is the number one trigger leading caregivers to shaking an infant. Statistics show an estimated at 1,200 to 1,400 children annually are injured or killed by shaking in the U.S. This is one of the most unrealized forms of child abuse, as many times the caregiver didn’t intend on harming the baby. It is estimated that over 300 babies a year will die from being shaken in this country. This means that roughly 20% of the victims die and the other remaining 80% suffer permanent disability.

Injury to the brain is most likely to happen when a baby is shaken and then the baby’s head hits something even hitting a soft object, such as a pillow or mattress is enough to injure newborns and small infants. Newborn infant brains are much softer and their neck muscles and ligaments are weak. Since their heads are large and heavy in proportion to their bodies. The result of being shaken is a type of whiplash, similarly occurring in some auto accidents. It is important to note that shaken baby syndrome doesn’t occur from playful swinging or gentle bouncing. It rarely occurs from accidents such as small falls, those injuries often cause smaller head injuries.

Signs & Symptoms that you should look for if you suspect Shaken baby Syndrome
  • Decreased alertness
  • Seizures (convulsions)
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme irritability
  • Sleepiness, lethargy
  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale or blueish skin tone
  • Even lack of appetite

In some cases their may not be any visible signs of trauma such as bleeding, bruising or swelling and may difficult to diagnose in a routine office visit. where broken ribs or bone fractures are easily spotted on x-rays.

If your child suffers a head injury and begins vomiting first turn the child’s head to one side to prevent aspiration of the vomit and if you suspect any spinal injury carefully roll the child’s entire body over on it’s side so they don’t aspirate and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Do not ignore the signs if you suspect child abuse in your home or in the home of someone you know, report it to the local police or county social services