Never Shake a Baby!
What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a form of child abuse.
It is characterized as a collection of injuries that occur when a baby or child is shaken violently. The injuries that are most commonly associated with SBS include: bleeding around the brain, bleeding of the retina of the eye, fractures at the end of long bones and ribs as well as bruises to the skin.
It is important to recognize that not all of these injuries need to be present for the diagnosis of SBS.
How does Shaken Baby Syndrome happen?
Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a baby or child is shaken violently.
The damage endured by shaking a baby/child can be greater if the shaking ends with a impact such as putting the baby down roughly on a crib mattress or floor.
Everyday interactions such as gently bouncing or rocking a baby will not result in SBS.
Babies are particularly vulnerable to SBS as they have poor head and neck control and are not able to verbalize their needs.
What are the Effects of Shaken Baby Syndrome?
In the most violent cases of SBS the results are devastating. The baby or child can experience permanent disability such as cognitive impairment, developmental delay, seizures, vision loss or even death.
Milder cases of SBS are not as apparent. Infants usually suffer from lethargy, poor feeding and irritability. Often these cases are misdiagnosed as illness, rather than SBS. However, it is important that these cases get treated so that further damage is not sustained.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome?
SBS is totally preventable.
It is important that you talk to your partner, babysitter or any other individual that may be caring for your baby or child about the serious consequences of shaking a baby.
Dealing With A Fussy and Irritable Baby or Child
Dealing with an irritable, crying baby or child is stressful – especially if it seems like it is constant. Parents can become very frustrated with this situation and in turn shake their baby or child. There are a number of suggestions that can be used to deal with a crying baby or child:
- Try to determine why your baby is crying. Does his/her diaper need changed? Does he/she need to be cuddled and comforted/ Is he/she hungry? Is he/she too hot or too cold?
- If the crying does not resolve and there is not apparent reason for it, remain calm.
- If you feel yourself becoming angry and frustrated or that you could hurt your baby, put the baby in a safe place and leave the room for a few minutes. By doing this, you are allowing yourself time to calm down.
- Talk to your friends and family about your emotions and frustrations.
- If the crying is ongoing, daily problem, develop a plan so that you can get some reprieve for a few hours a day.
** If you suspect your baby or child is suffering from Shaken Baby Syndrome, take him/her to the hospital immediately.
Caringforkids.cps.ca (2002). Never shake a baby [Online]. Available: http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/never_shake_a_baby
Cps. Ca (2001). Joint statement on shaken baby syndrome [Online]. Available: http://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/shaken-baby-syndrome
Kidshealth.org (2001). Available: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/shaken.html