Demystifying Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome (SBS), also known as abusive head trauma (AHT), results when a baby is shaken violently and the head snaps back and forth, causing cranial or brain damage.


According to the National Center of Shaken Baby Syndrome, parents are frequently calling to find out if falls, horseplay, swings or other activities can cause SBS. The answer: no. The constellation of damages related to SBS (which can include retinal hemorrhaging, subdural hematoma and brain swelling) is caused by rapid back and forth movement of the head, along with abrupt acceleration and deceleration. Jogging, swinging and bouncing are not causes of shaken baby syndrome.


Symptoms of shaken baby syndrome can be difficult to isolate and identify because they are present in many infants at any given time. If you see them acting in concert, however, your suspicious may be justified and you should seek a professional examination by a doctor. Symptoms can include vomiting, irritability, lethargy, lack of energy and happiness and decreased appetite. More advanced symptoms can include difficulty breathing, irregular bruising in the shoulder and neck region, limited head mobility, limited eye movement or seizures.


Most babies are shaken because parents do not know how to quiet them down. Plan an alternative when it seems like you have exhausted all your options. The truth is that sometimes babies just need to cry. If your child does not need anything, simply let the crying go on as long as it needs to.

If you think someone has injured your child by shaking him or her, consult a medical professional immediately. The effects can be long lasting, and possibly fatal. Caregivers should be held responsible for such damaging actions.

The Metier Law Firm, LLCDenver injury attorneys