Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a term used to describe brain injury in young children under three years of age (most commonly under 18 months) resulting from vigorous shaking of an infant or child by the arms, legs, or shoulders. This motion often results in bleeding inside the head and can cause irreversible brain damage, blindness, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, spinal cord injuries, seizures, learning disabilities, and even death. It can be traced historically from the mid-1500s and was officially named and defined in 1974. Most recently "abusive head trauma" has replaced "shaken baby syndrome" since infants can receive many different injuries from many different types of abuse, including shaking, throwing and hitting.

Shaken Baby Syndrome is considered to be a form of child abuse. If you believe that a child has been subjected to any abuse, please report it by calling: 1-800-252-5400.

Children and infants with abusive head injury(s) may develop vomiting with lethargy or drowsiness, breathing difficulties or may become unresponsive. Infants are more likely to die if their head injuries are caused by abuse rather than an accident. Caretakers may report that the infant stopped breathing, went to sleep and could not be aroused, was dropped or that the infant rolled off a bed or sofa. Diagnosis is made by CT or MRI scans and eye examinations, in addition to other diagnostic tests.

Parents of children receiving out-of-home care should discuss all forms of discipline with the caregiver. This discussion should include references to Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Information Sources:

Children's Trust Fund of Texas American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. Multiple sources are available on the internet under Shaken Baby Syndrome.

For more information, visit the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Information provided by DFPS Website.