Shaking Baby Syndrome

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Shaken Baby Syndrome

Imagine yourself as a sweet, innocent, precious little baby. You are totally dependant upon adults to give you what you need and most importantly love. Your only means of communication is crying so you cry when you need to be fed, when you need your diaper changed, when you aren’t feeling so well, or when you just want some attention. You are crying and someone comes over to you. They pick you up, but instead of holding you and comforting you, talking affectionately to you, they shake you violently and vigorously. You are a baby, imagine the fear and pain that the shaking causes you. This is a form of child abuse and what is even harder to believe is that it actually happens. The correct term is Shaken Baby Syndrome and it is a form of abuse that is happening far and wide.

What exactly is Shaking Baby Syndrome? Shaken Baby Syndrome is a serious brain injury that occurs when adults, frustrated and angry with children, shake then violently, and Shaken Baby Syndrome mostly occurs when a child receives numerous rapid shakes. It can also occur when a baby is slammed against a hard object; head impact is not necessary but does frequently occur. Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs frequently in infants younger than six months old, yet can occur up to the age of 5. (Showers, 1997.) In reality, shaking a baby if only for a few seconds can injure the baby for life.

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. The number one reason why a baby is shaken is because of inconsolable crying. (National Exchange Club Foundation, 1998) An infant may spend two to three hours a day crying. (The Epilepsy Association of Central Florida) A caregiver momentarily gives in to the frustration of responding to a crying baby by shaking. Caregivers may be inadequately prepared for children.

Why is shaking a baby so dangerous? A baby’s head and neck are especially vulnerable to injury because the head is so large and the neck muscles are still weak. A baby’s neck is to weak to support their heavy head so when the baby is shaken the heads swings back and forth. In addition, the baby’s brain and blood vessels are very fragile and easily damaged by whiplash mo...

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...n a coma, being in a vegetative state, and the worst, death. One in every four babies shaken dies. The rest have to deal with the injuries and symptoms that will affect the rest of their innocent lives.

Twenty five to thirty percent of babies shaken die (National Shaken Baby Syndrome). Immediate medical attention can help reduce the impact of shaking, but many children are left with permanent damage from the shaking. The treatment of survivors falls into 3 major categories. Those categories are medical, behavioral, and educational. In addition to medical care, children may need speech and language therapy, vision therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and special education services. (Showers, 1997) Many incidents of Shaken Baby Syndrome are not reported out of fear. It is important to seek immediate and early medical attention. Serious complications and even death can be avoided.

Exactly how much force is needed to cause injuries? No firm answer exists as to the exact number of shakes necessary or how long a person might typically shake a child. In most cases the period of shaking is 5-10 seconds. (National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome) To cause brain damage, severe

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