Shaken baby syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome what is it

To parents – this is also known as Abusive Head Trauma. Shaken baby syndrome is a result from violent shaking of the baby that impact the head of an infant. It results in injuries that can lead to permanent neurologic disability or death.

Babies often cry due to hunger or pain or seeking attention. It is natural. If they feel sick also they cry. It is known fact they cannot express with words or gesture. The only way they can express to seek attention is crying. If parents, care takers or baby sitters does not have patience sometimes they knowingly or unknowingly shake baby violently by holding the arms. This causes jerk movement of the head. Apart from this, there are other types of movements that can result in shaken baby syndrome. According to National Center on Shaken baby syndrome, some actions that also could result in the syndrome are:

  • Bouncing baby on knee
  • Tossing baby in the air
  • Jogging or bicycling with baby
  • Sudden stops in a moving vehicle or driving over bumps
  • Fall from furniture or bed
  • Shaking baby’s head

Why shaking baby is dangerous

Sever injury that is result of above mentioned action or violent shaking of children can happen at any age. However, babies are more susceptible as they are more vulnerable for several reasons. Small body of the babies and no resistance for the adult strength is one of the obvious reason.  Their heads are heavy and large proportion of their body size. In addition, their neck has weak muscles and brain is fragile.

Sign and symptom of shaken baby syndrome

  • Decreased appetite, vomiting
  • Bruises on arms and chest
  • Poor sucking or swallowing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Reduced consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Head and forehead might appear larger due to swelling
  • Inability to lift head
  • Cannot focus eyes
  • Unable to recognize
  • Unequal size of pupils
  • Lethargy and no smile
  • bleeding and swelling in the head and bleeding in the back of the eye

As the child starts growing other signs could be noticeable :Learning and physical disability, Hearing impairment, speech disability, cerebral palsy, visual impairment or blindness, behavioral disorder, cognitive impairment, seizures or death.

How to prevent shaken baby syndrome?

This syndrome is completely preventable. To stop abuse educating those who involved in baby’s development is necessary. Research studies show that in most cases, incessant crying is the primary stimulus is the cause for the frustration of caregivers and they lose control. Counseling new parents, expectant parents regarding babies behavior including crying and teaching parents how to handle crying baby is essential.

Parents and caregivers must know that, it is natural for babies to cry sometimes for no reason 10-15 minutes and it does not lead to any health issues. If they need help in consoling baby they must seek advice from their elders who has experience handling babies.

Try finding a reason for baby’s crying if it is more than half an hour or so. Baby might have tummy pain, fever, hunger, bug bite or look for any visual mark on baby’s body. Sometimes, diverting baby’s attention helps.

Bottom line: while being a parent is blessing, parents also should know that while dealing with babies having patience is critical. Shaking baby can result in fatal injury or permanent brain damage. All babies cry. Understanding and finding reason why baby is crying can help to prevent baby from crying.  Showing anger and abusing baby can only hurt the infant. Gentle rocking, using pacifier, sweet talk, singing or using stroller, exposing baby to nice weather or call pediatrician to stop baby from crying or give little time and baby may sleep and get back to normalcy after a while.



Image credit: Top left photo -father holding baby Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash (Free for commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: September 28, 2021

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