Shaken baby syndrome, also known as abusive head trauma, is caused by sudden impact, an inflected head injury or whiplash. It can result in a serious brain injury from forcefully shaking an infant or toddler. The syndrome is detrimental to a baby's brain cells and can prevent the flow of oxygen to the brain or lead to permanent brain damage. It is a form of child abuse, and its symptoms may not be immediately obvious, leading to a misdiagnosis.
According to one report, one baby a week can suffer from this syndrome in the state of Wisconsin. One advocacy group claims up to one quarter of all shaken babies results in their death. Of those that survive, the majority suffer moderate to severe long-term disabilities. Since babies have delicate neck muscles, their heads must be supported. In a shaking incident, the fragile brain moves around inside the skull, which leads to bruising or swelling.
All child care providers are required by the state to undergo training in identifying symptoms, causes and effects of violently shaking babies. It applies to all persons who care for children under four years of age, including school employees, volunteers assistants, and anyone involved in child care for children under the age of 4, in spite of the fact that the majority of children who are shaken are infants. Any toddler with disabilities is especially vulnerable.
Shaken Baby Syndrome leading to traumatic brain injury is tragic but can be prevented with knowledge and attention. If you suspect your child care provider is mistreating your child or shaking him, there is widespread support and information available to inform you of your options.
If you notice suspicious injuries such as bleeding in the eye or fractures, this could be an indication of a traumatic brain injury. Symptoms do not appear right away so your doctor could misdiagnose this, leading to long-term life damages. In the best interests of your child, you should investigate symptoms and causes, and seek advice to protect your child under the law.
Source: Stevens Point Journal, "Kelly Borchardt: Training available to prevent shaken baby syndrome" Kelly Borchardt, Feb. 24, 2014