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Shaken Baby Syndrome
(Shaken Impact Syndrome)
- The neck muscles of young children, especially babies, are not strong. It can be tough for them to fully support their heavy heads or protect themselves from harsh movements.
- Baby's brains are more fragile than adults. Shaking movements can cause the brain to move back and forth inside their skulls. The movement can injure the brain and tear small blood vessels. The bleeding can affect the brain and the eyes.
|Brain Bruised from Whiplash—Similar Effect in Shaken Baby Syndrome|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
- Domestic or child abuse
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- History of stress or social difficulties
- Failure-to-thrive—not growing as expected
- Poor feeding or vomiting
- Seizures or spasms
- Semi-consciousness or loss of consciousness—not fully awake or aware of surroundings
- Difficulty breathing
- Dilated or unresponsive pupils
- Swollen head
- Lethargy or irritability
- Bruising of the part of the body used as a handle for shaking
- Fractures of the arm bones, leg bones, and/or ribs
Supportive care—Your child may need assistance with basic functions like breathing.
- This care may be temporary. It will help support your baby during healing.
- If the injuries are severe, your baby may require permanent supportive care.
Treatment to relieve elevated pressure in the head—Pressure may be caused by bleeding or swelling of the brain. The increased pressure can cause further brain damage. Elevated pressure may be treated with:
- Draining fluid from the head
- Surgery to remove blood on the brain or rarely to remove part of the skull
- Anti-seizure medications may be prescribed. Some head injuries can cause seizures.
- Take a deep breath and count to 10.
- Take time out. Place your child in a safe place, like the crib. Let your baby cry alone.
- Call someone close to you for emotional support. Ask friends or family for help to care for your baby.
- Call your baby’s doctor. There may be a medical reason why your child is crying.
Brain Injury Association of America http://www.biausa.org
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org
Brain Injury Association of Nipissing Shaken Baby Syndrome http://dawn.thot.net/brain/baby.htm
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca
Abusive head trauma. KidsHealth. Nemours website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/shaken.html. Updated March 2014. Accessed September 28, 2014.
Concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 15, 2014. Accessed September 28, 2014.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 28, 2014. Accessed September 28, 2014.
Shaken baby syndrome. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Shaken%20Baby%20Syndrome.aspx. Accessed September 28, 2014.
Shaken baby syndrome. American Humane Association website. Available at: http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/shaken-baby-syndrome.html. September 28, 2014.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013