Shaken Baby Syndrome

Before being released from the hospital after having my twins, my husband and I BOTH, were required to watch the “Shaken Baby Syndrome Video.” What we saw was heart breaking and moved us to tears.

For the families who are victims of SBS, the journey is surreal. Shaken Baby Syndrome, generally occurs with someone in the family or a trusted baby sitter. It is impossible to imagine what can move someone to hurt an infant, but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be significantly violent shaking to cause damage to an infant‘s delicate body.

Shaken Baby Sydrome occurs when a baby, usually, is shaken. Many people think that SBS will only occur if you shake a baby extremely violently, this is simply not true. Victims of SBS very often die. If they survive, their medical needs tend to be substantial. What is most sad about SBS is that is it completely preventable.

Perpetrators most frequently shake a baby in a moment of frustration to get him to stop crying. However, shaking a baby can result in bleeding in the brain, and/or retina. Symptoms include: seizures, respiratory distress, unconsciousness, vomiting, inability to suck or swallow, irritability, and/or his heart may stop.

Baby’s heads are approximately 25% of their body weight. Their immature neck muscles are simply unable to support such a disproportionately large head. As a result the baby’s head “flops” back and forth more easily thus sustaining more injury than an older child might with the same amount of force. Furthermore, because infants’ heads are immature and still developing rapidly, they are more prone to injury from shaking.

What you can do to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome:

1. Know everyone who you leave your infant with. Do not leave your baby in a daycare that is not properly certified and ask them if their staff has had Shaken Baby Syndrome education.

2. Many parents are afraid that social services will get involved, and so they don’t tell the doctors immediately that they suspect (or know) that the baby has been shaken. If you suspect that your baby has been shaken, alert the doctors immediately. Time is critical in treating brain injuries and helping the doctors know what’s wrong, may save your baby’s life.

3. Educate everyone who takes care of your baby about shaken baby syndrome.

If you, yourself, feel frustrated while caring for your infant, to the point of wanting to hurt your infant, “make” him be quiet, or you feel like shaking your infant follow these steps:

*Put your baby down either in his crib or on the floor, anywhere where he is not in danger of rolling off and getting hurt.
*Shut the door and calmly walk away where you cannot easily hear your baby crying. Take 5-10 minutes to take a shower, do some exercise or relax.

*Call a friend or someone to help you if you need to.

Don’t be one of the statistics by not being educated. Remember that it is better to leave a baby crying than to shake him. Many parents think that this is common sense, until it happened to them. For more information on Shaken Baby Syndrome click here.