Shaken baby syndrome, abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, inflicted head injury, whiplash shake syndrome—all are terms for a momentary loss of self-control that leads to the severe injury or death of an infant or toddler. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), only five seconds of shaking a baby can cause shaken baby syndrome.
Most instances of shaken baby syndrome occur with children younger than age two, but the plight is sometimes discovered in children as old as five years. It’s a tragedy that a brief lapse in a Kentucky caregiver’s self-control can be so devastating to a baby.
How It Happens
Most instances of shaken baby syndrome result when a frustrated parent or caregiver shakes the child to stop him or her from crying. The caregiver usually does not intend to cause harm but can’t seem to find a way to console the child.
Shaken baby syndrome is not what happens when a caregiver
- swings the child playfully;
- tosses the child into the air and catches him or her; or
- goes jogging with the child on the body in a front or back carrier.
It also is unlikely to happen when the baby
- falls from a chair, bed, or other furniture;
- falls down the stairs; or
- is dropped accidentally by a caregiver.
The Truth and the Consequences
Young children’s heads are large and heavy relative to their bodies, the muscles and ligaments in their necks are weak, and their brains are softer than they will eventually be. The combination of these factors makes a baby’s brain vulnerable to severe damage if the baby is shaken.
When the child is shaken, the brain bumps back and forth inside the skull, causing bruising, swelling, pressure, and bleeding of the brain. These symptoms can be even worse if the large veins outside the brain are torn, resulting in permanent brain damage or even death. Other injuries that may be caused by shaking include damage to the neck, spine, and eyes.
Clues to Injury
Per the NIH, symptoms of shaken baby syndrome span the continuum from mild to severe and may include the following:
- decreased alertness;
- extreme irritability or other behavioral changes;
- lethargy or sleepiness;
- lack of smiling;
- loss of consciousness;
- not breathing;
- pale or blue tint to skin;
- not eating; and
Other injuries resulting from being shaken, such as retinal detachment and rib fractures, may not be as easily observed.
If a Kentucky child care provider has caused your baby brain damage by shaking him or her in frustration, contact Gray and White Law in Louisville. Call us at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.