Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT)
The Child Abuse Prevention Services Department of the National Exchange Club is committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Shaken Baby Syndrome is a form of Abusive Head Trauma and recent literature often links these two terms. This page provides information about this form of child abuse.What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT) is a term used to describe a collection of signs and symptoms resulting from violent shaking or shaking and impacting of the head of an infant or small child. When a baby is vigorously shaken, the head moves back and forth. This sudden whiplash motion may or may not include a blow to the head, but does lead to a distinct pattern of injuries. Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs most frequently in infants younger than six months old, yet can occur up to the age of three. Although there are often no obvious outward signs of injury, serious bleeding may occur, particularly inside the head or behind the eyes. In reality, shaking a baby, if only for a few seconds, can injure the baby for life. These injuries can include brain swelling and damage, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, developmental delays, blindness, hearing loss, paralysis, or death.
Abusive head injuries are the most common cause of death in child abuse. These injuries are most common in infants under one year old, but the same injuries can be seen in children as old as age 4 or 5 years.How does it happen?
Everyone knows that babies cry, however medical research has shown that there is a time during an infant's first few weeks that crying becomes more intense, prolonged, and at times very difficult to soothe. This is recognized as a normal phase of infant development. Although normal, this inconsolable crying can become extremely challenging for parents. Often frustrated parents or other persons responsible for a child's care feel that shaking a baby is a harmless way to make a child stop crying. Professionals now feel that crying leads to most early traumatic brain injury or Shaken Baby Syndrome. About 25 percent of babies diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome die.What can you do to prevent a tragedy?
If you or someone else shakes a baby, either accidentally or on purpose, call 911 or take the child to the emergency room immediately. Bleeding inside the brain can be treated. Immediate medical attention may save your baby many future problems . . . and possibly your baby's life.
National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome
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