Shaken baby syndrome is a medical condition that occurs whenever an adult forcefully and violently shakes an infant or toddler. When a very young child is forcefully shaken, the brain hits against the skull because there is less cushioning available. This can cause serious injury or even death. A few of the side effects of shaken baby syndrome include:
- Severe bruising
- Bleeding around the head area
- Retinal bleeding or damage
- Neck or spinal cord damage
- Fractured bones
Children who are violently shaken may wind up with long-term or even permanent disabilities, provided they survive at all. The younger a child is when he or she is shaken, the greater the likelihood of serious injuries are. A few of the long-term effects of shaken baby syndrome are:
- Brain damage
- Learning disabilities
- Hearing or vision loss
- Speech difficulties
How is Shaken Baby Syndrome Diagnosed?
Those who cause injuries to a child by shaking rarely admit to this when bringing an infant in for treatment. As a result, doctors who suspect shaken baby syndrome may need to perform additional tests or x-rays in order to confirm a diagnosis. In some cases, Child Protective Services may be asked to investigate an alleged incident as well. Parents may sometimes observe that their child is lethargic, has a loss of appetite or is unusually irritable. A baby can also be unable to lift his or her head or focus on an object for an extended period of time. If there is reason to believe a child has been shaken, medical attention should be sought immediately.
According to information from the Pediatric Academic Societies, the number of infants suffering from shaken baby syndrome is on the rise. This organization estimates that there are between 1,200 and 1,400 cases of SBS each year, resulting in the death in one out of every four children who are affected. Young boys are shaken more often than girls are, with the perpetrator also being male in about 80 percent of the cases. Children who come from economically disadvantaged homes are also at a greater risk as well.
Civil and Criminal Penalties
While parents are sometimes responsible for shaken baby syndrome, it sometimes happens at the hands of caregivers as well. Responsible parents may pick up their infant from a childcare provider, only to find that unspeakable acts have been committed during their absence. Perpetrators of SBS can face criminal sanctions, and may also be sued in a court of law for damages. Parents whose child has been a victim can speak with a personal injury attorney in order to assert their rights. If you or a loved one has a child who has been injured, then call 713-222-1222 and schedule a free case evaluation for legal representation.