Shaken Baby Syndrome: Recognizing and Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome

Unraveling a serious form of abuse by vigorous shaking of the baby by caretakers and parents
Frustrated parents and caregivers unable to stop the infant from crying can end up shaking the baby as a resort to calm them down. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Frustrated parents and caregivers unable to stop the infant from crying can end up shaking the baby as a resort to calm them down. (Representational image: Unsplash)

An infant's neck is supported by weak muscles thus unable to support their heads independently. When shaken their brain moves back and forth in the skull causing swelling, bruising, etc. Shaken baby syndrome does not occur due to minor jerks and falls but rather due to aggressive abuse.

Immediate symptoms to look out for are loss of consciousness, shock, and seizures

Other symptoms include:

  • Vomiting

  • Extreme Irritability

  • Poor appetite

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Lethargy

  • Tremors

  • Coma

  • Swollen head

  • Inability to lift their head

  • Dilated pupils

If your infant is experiencing these symptoms, please consult a healthcare physician immediately.

Shaken baby syndrome can cause many irreversible medical issues like subdural hematoma (collection of blood between the surface of the child’s brain and their dura), subarachnoid hemorrhage (Bleeding between the child’s brain and arachnoid), direct brain trauma among many other fatal issues. Fractures in the baby's skull, ribcage, arms, legs, and collarbones may also be observed.
Caregivers must treat infants with utmost care and support their necks (Representational image: Pixabay)
Caregivers must treat infants with utmost care and support their necks (Representational image: Pixabay)

Dr Munish Raizada, a certified neonatologist, and CEO of Medbound Times shared his opinion on the Medbound Times app stating that stress, unstable family relationships, unrealistic expectations from the babies, and single parenthood can be the underlying causes of Shaken baby syndrome.

Shaken Baby Syndrome is unfortunately a reality. Stress, unstable family relationships, unrealistic expectations from the babies, single parenthood, etc are some of the underlying causes

Dr Munish Raizada, Certified Neonatologist, and CEO of Medbound Times

 Risk factors of Shaken baby syndrome

  • Domestic violence

  • Unrealistic expectations of babies

  • Substance or alcohol abuse

  • Depression

  • Stress

  • Single or young parenthood

Diagnostic tests

X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), along with retinal examinations, can be performed by healthcare providers to diagnose this syndrome.

Do you suspect your baby to have Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Immediately call an ambulance as emergency treatment is necessary. Begin CPR if the baby stops breathing.

If the infant starts vomiting:

1. You do not suspect a spinal injury: turn the infant's head to one side to prevent the baby from either breathing the vomit in or choking.

2. You suspect a spinal injury: roll the whole body of the child with care while you support the neck to prevent aspiration or choking

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