What is, Shaken Baby Syndrome? | Shaken Baby Syndrome
What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Shaken Baby Syndrome is an injurious condition caused by the shaking of an infant or child.The action of rapidly shaking an infant or child causes the sudden forward, backward and sideway motion of the head. During the shaking action the brain is injured from hitting against the inside of the bony skull, causing inflammation, bleeding, separation of vessels and nerve fibers in the soft brain tissue on all sides of the brain. The brain of an infant or child is very soft because it has more water content and it is easier to injure than an adult brain. Therefore, less energy is required to cause lethal injury to an infant or child’s brain. In shaken baby syndrome, the eyes may get injured by the sudden increase in pressure and motion around the soft tissues that make up the delicate structure of the eyes. After the shaking, the brain and the eyes bleed inside the confined spaces they are contained in. This bleeding causes high pressure to build within the head and eyes. The damage caused by shaking the head, brain and eye structures and the increasing high pressure that follows causes permanent injury or death for the infant or child. If death does not occur the infant or child may be left with permanent brain damage, blindness, neuromuscular disability, paralysis, deafness, learning disabilities and/or a seizure disorder.
What causes Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Factors may be present that cause adults and their infants and children to be more at risk for abusive events such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.Infants at risk include infants less than one year of age, male infants, infants of twin or multiple births, premature infants, infants with health problems and infants that have inconsolable crying spells. Adults at risk for committing abusive acts include adults with poor coping skills, unrealistic expectations, substance abuse, former victims of abuse and adults with mental health problems. Environmental factors that usually culminate in abusive events include social isolation, dysfunctional family characteristics and socio-economic burdens. However, Shaken Baby Syndrome may occur in any setting and it is important to know the signs and symptoms that may be present in an infant or child that may be a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
What are the signs and symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome?
The common signs and symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome include poor feeding, failure to thrive, vomiting, weakness, irritability, a change in overall muscle tone, decreased alertness, seizures, pale skin color, cool skin temperature, difficulty breathing and sudden respiratory or cardiac arrest. The fontanelles may be swollen depending on the age of the infant. It is important to remember that there may be no bruising, scrapes or outward physical signs of trauma. There may be only a change in behavior as described in the first sentence. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What medical tests do providers use to identify Shaken Baby Syndrome?
The healthcare provider will use physical examination, computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),ophthalmologic examination, laboratory tests and skeletal x-rays to check for clinical evidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
How can Shaken Baby Syndrome be prevented?
It is important for caregivers of infants and children to have adequate rest and a supportive environment. Feelings of stress and frustration are normal while caring for infants and children, however acting out in a harmful way towards the infant or child is not acceptable. The caregiver should focus on developing an abuse-prevention plan for dealing with feelings of stress and frustration that may emerge in the presence of the infant or the child. The abuse-prevention plan should include a cooling off period and developing an effective coping behavior that prevents physical abuse from occurring. It is best for families to be proactive and make an effort to provide a supportive environment for caregivers with children by assisting with childcare and allowing the caregiver respite. And the caregiver should not hesitate to ask family members and friends to assist with childrearing. It takes more than one person to care for an infant or raise a child. If you or someone you know has difficulty managing anger than utilizing community programs may be necessary if the family is not supportive. Please don’t hesitate to contact an organization in your community to assist you with childcare and respite issues. Please seek assistance if you feel overwhelmed by stress. If you know someone that has expressed frustration and is feeling overwhelmed, reach out and assist in any way that you can. Communication is essential to preventing child abuse. Remember approximately four million children are abused annually.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides general information about health and safety issues, including links to child abuse information and topics.
If you have any questions or concerns about what can be done to help babies who have been shaken, or families of babies who have died, please call Christopher Keane and The Keane Law Firm toll-free for free consultation at (888) 592-5437 (KIDS), click on contact us here, or use the web form provided at http://www.keanelaw.com