Shaken Baby Syndrome

1 What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken baby syndrome is also known as abusive head trauma. This occurs when infants are shaken vigorously. If infant cannot withstand this shaking and brain cells due to traumatic injury die because of lack of oxygen.

Shaken baby syndrome can result in damage or even in worst cases death of child. Shaken baby syndrome is preventable. Parents can educate other people holding their baby dangers about shaking baby.  

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of shaken baby syndrome are:

  • extreme irritability,
  • difficulty staying awake,
  • breathing problems,
  • poor eating,
  • tremors,
  • vomiting,
  • pale or bluish skin,
  • seizures,
  • coma,
  • paralysis.

Other injuries which may not be noticed are internal bleeding and formation of hematoma. In mild cases shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken but overtime he/she may develop problems related with health, learning or behavior problems.

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3 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome is done by performing several tests.

A child who was shaken forcefully may need to be examined by a number of medical experts, as well as an expert in child abuse. The following tests may be performed:

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scan- CT scan uses multiple X-ray images to provide a three dimensional overview of the inspected area. This test can help detect the injuries and need of urgent medical intervention.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)- this test uses electromagnetic waves to predict the picture of brain and can also monitor electrical activity of brain. MRI is very difficult to perform on child because it needs the subject to be stable.
  • Ophthalmological exam- an eye exam can identify bleeding and other vision related problems.
  • Blood tests- some tissue decay proteins which can prove the presence of damaged tissue can be diagnosed.

4 Treatment

Emergency care treatment for a child who underwent forceful shaking may include life saving measures like breathing support, and surgery to stop bleeding in the brain.

5 Prevention

One might try different things to make their child calm but one must remember that he/ she should treat their child gently in order to prevent shaken baby syndrome.

It only takes a few seconds of shaking to cause irreversible brain damage.

Seeking help of experienced parents might be useful in these situations. When other people are taking care of child make sure that they know the consequences of shaking child. 

6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

There are no known alternative remedies for shaken baby syndrome. Hence this a traumatic injury and nervous tissue dose not regenerate. The parts which will be damaged during this shaking will remain damaged and their function will be lost.

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary for you and your child in order to prevent shaken baby syndrome.

Human nervous tissue cannot be regenerated. Hence depending on the severity of damage occurred to the brain tissue some functions might be lost.

Talking to experienced parents and especially having control on anger and frustration will help to prevent this condition. Two to three hours of crying a day is considered as normal for babies.

Babies who are ill and not having proper medical condition might cry for longer periods.

Holding your nerves and behaving gently with child is important. 

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with shaken baby syndrome.

Factors that may increase risk of inflicting shaken baby syndrome include:

  • Unrealistic expectations of babies,
  • young or first parenthood,
  • stress,
  • domestic violence,
  • alcohol or drug abuse,
  • unstable family situations,
  • depression,
  • men are more likely to cause a shaken baby syndrome.

Complications of shaken baby syndrome include:  

  • partial or total blindness,  
  • hearing loss,
  • developmental delays,
  • mental retardation,
  • seizures disorders,
  • cerebral palsy,
  • even death in worst cases.
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