Category Archives: Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
Never shake a Baby for any reason, nor raise your voice to one.

SBS/AHT is the leading cause of physical
Child Abuse in the U. S.

OVERVIEW

Shaken baby syndrome — also known as abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, inflicted head injury or whiplash shake syndrome — is a serious brain injury resulting from forcefully shaking an infant or toddler.

Shaken baby syndrome destroys a child’s brain cells and prevents his or her brain from getting enough oxygen.  Shaken baby syndrome is a form of child abuse that can result in permanent brain damage or death.

Shaken baby syndrome is preventable.  Help is available for parents who are at risk of harming a child.  Parents also can educate other caregivers about the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.

SYMPTOMS

Shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:

  • Extreme fussiness or irritability
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor eating
  • Vomiting
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

You may not see any signs of physical injury to the child’s outer body.  Sometimes, the face is bruised.  Injuries that might not be immediately seen include bleeding in the brain and eyes, spinal cord damage, and fractures of the ribs, skull, legs and other bones.  Many children with shaken baby syndrome show signs and symptoms of prior child abuse.

In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken, but over time he or she may develop health or behavioral problems.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Seek immediate help if you suspect your child has been injured by violent shaking. Contact your child’s doctor or take your child to the nearest emergency room. Getting medical care right away may save your child’s life or prevent serious health problems.

Health care professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities.

CAUSES

Babies have weak neck muscles and often struggle to support their heavy heads.  If a baby is forcefully shaken, his or her fragile brain moves back and forth inside the skull.  This causes bruising, swelling and bleeding.

Shaken baby syndrome usually occurs when a parent or caregiver severely shakes a baby or toddler due to frustration or anger — often because the child won’t stop crying.

Shaken baby syndrome isn’t usually caused by bouncing a child on your knee, minor falls or even rough play.

RISK FACTORS

The following things may make parents or caregivers more likely to forcefully shake a baby and cause shaken baby syndrome:

  • Unrealistic expectations of babies
  • Young or single parenthood
  • Stress
  • Domestic violence
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Unstable family situations
    Depression
  • A history of mistreatment as a child

Also, men are more likely to cause shaken baby syndrome than are women.

COMPLICATIONS

Even brief shaking of an infant can cause irreversible brain damage.  Many children affected by shaken baby syndrome die.

Survivors of shaken baby syndrome may require lifelong medical care for conditions such as:

  • Partial or total blindness
  • Developmental delays, learning problems or behavior issues
  • Intellectual disability
  • Seizure disorders
  • Cerebral palsy

PREVENTION

New parent education classes can help parents better understand the dangers of violent shaking and may provide tips to soothe a crying baby and manage stress.

When your crying baby can’t be calmed, you may be tempted to try anything to get the tears to stop — but it’s important to always treat your child gently.  Nothing justifies shaking a child.

If you’re having trouble managing your emotions or the stress of parenthood, seek help.  Your child’s doctor may offer a referral to a counselor or other mental health provider.

If other people help take care of your child — whether a hired caregiver, sibling or grandparent — make sure they know the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.

Source:  Mayo Clinic Staff
https://www.mayoclinic.org

Domestic Violence Big Part Of Utah Child Abuse Case

.jpg photo of man that made death threats toward child to mother
Daniel Mercer, 28

Utah couple charged with child abuse
after 3-month-old girl suffers broken bones, brain bleeding and severe burns

SPANISH FORK, UT  –  A Spanish Fork couple was charged Friday after their three-month-old child was taken to the hospital with bad burns on her body, and other injuries consistent with child abuse, investigators said.

According to a probable cause statement released by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, officers were contacted by the Department of Child & Family Services to investigate an aggravated child abuse case involving a three-month-old girl.

Investigators went to the University of Utah, where doctors said the baby had second-degree burns on her hand, two broken bones, brain bleeding consistent with shaken baby syndrome and a possible detached retina in her eye.

Doctors determined that the injuries the baby sustained were inflicted over the course of two weeks prior to her being admitted to the hospital, the statement said.

.jpg photo of abused child's mother
Whitney Huber, 30

The parents, identified as Whitney Huber, 30, and Daniel Mercer, 28, spoke with police about the incident, according to court documents.

After being interviewed by police, Mercer admitted to “recklessly causing the burns to his infant daughter’s left hand.”

“Daniel admitted to making death threats to the child and telling Huber when they fought on two recent occasions that he would, ‘kill the baby and make her watch as the baby died.’” the statement said.

Neither Huber or Mercer would tell police how the infant sustained the other injuries doctors said she had, police stated.

Mercer was charged Friday with two counts of child abuse – inflict serious physical injury intentionally, both second-degree felonies, possession of a controlled substance, a class-A misdemeanor and use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a class-B misdemeanor.

Huber was charged one count of child abuse, inflict serious physical injury recklessly, a third-degree felony.

Support is available 24/7 in Utah for those dealing with domestic violence.  Visit the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition online or call 1-800-897-5465 for resources and assistance.  In an emergency, dial 911.

Justice for KS Toddler Cooper Clark

.jpg photo of Father sentenced to 30 years for abuse and murder of Son
Benny Clark was charged with Child Abuse and first-degree murder in the death of his 6-month-old son.

After Kansas child’s death, father
sentenced to 30 years in prison for
abuse, murder

The father of a Kansas boy who died in August 2017 was sentenced to 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse.

Benny William Clark, 23, of Reece, pleaded guilty in March to intentional second-degree murder and child abuse, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a release Thursday.

He was sentenced to 364 months in the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Clark had been charged in August with first-degree murder in the death of his 6-month-old son, Cooper Clark,  The Eagle reported at the time.

Greenwood County Sheriff Heath Samuels had said deputies were called to the emergency room at the county hospital, where they were told the infant had injuries inconsistent with the parents’ story.

In court, Clark said he “vigorously shook” Cooper for 6 to 7 seconds after the baby took off his diaper and urinated over his bedding, the Eureka Herald and Emporia Gazette reported.

Clark also said that he was putting a fresh diaper on Cooper when he fell off an ottoman and hit his head.

The Wichita Police Department’s Exploited and Missing Child Unit assisted the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation.

Every State Should Have Sophies Law

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Sophie was abused by her babysitter at just four months old.

NKY mom ‘heartbroken’ by 3-year-old’s case pushes for child abuse registry

BELLEVUE, KY  –  A Northern Kentucky mother said cases like her daughter’s, and a case from last week in Butler County, are the reason she’s fighting to create a child abuse registry in Kentucky.

The new 2018 bill has been dubbed ‘Sophie and Kylie Jo’s Law’

She said her daughter was abused by her babysitter at just four months old.

Jennifer Diaz said her heart is broken for the family of Hannah Wesche.

Sheriff: 3-year-old ‘hanging on by a thread;’ babysitter charged with abuse

She worked with lawmakers in Kentucky last year to help create a child abuse registry, but the bill died.

Now, she is working with them again and hopes a new bill could make it a reality.

“Society needs to know who these horrible human beings are,” Diaz said.

Jennifer and her daughter, Sophie, have been sharing a story of abuse for years, hoping to save young ones from being hurt by someone they trust.

“We were fortunate that, you know, we’re survivors.  My child is a survivor,” Diaz said.

Sophie is in preschool these days, but she was four months old when her babysitter, Desiree Rankin, abused her, sending her to the hospital.

Rankin was convicted and sentenced in the case.

Jennifer said her heart broke when she saw 3-year-old Hannah’s story.

Investigators said Wesche was abused in Butler County on Thursday, to the point she isn’t expected to survive.

She’s currently in intensive care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and her family says she is brain dead.

Hannah’s babysitter, Lindsay Partin, was arrested but is out of jail.

Jennifer said she prays for Hannah’s family.

“You fight, you fight and get that justice that child deserves and just keep fighting,” Diaz said.

Diaz and her daughter are fighting too, to stop babysitters who’ve been convicted in similar crimes from ever doing it again.

Last year, Diaz worked with lawmakers in Kentucky to help create a child abuser registry.

She testified in Frankfort, but the 2017 bill died.

Now, she’s working with lawmakers in the 2018 session.

She testified just last week, with Sophie by her side.

“I’ll go 100 times if I have to, you know, whatever it takes to pass this law, it’s going to get passed,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer said the registry would operate much like the sex offender registry, with information online.

She said there are some big hurdles ahead, including figuring out ways to pay for the registry everyone can agree on.

The new bill has been dubbed “Sophie and Kylie Jo’s Law,” in honor of the two girls who were abused by their babysitters.

It has now been referred to the House Rules Committee.

NEVER, NEVER SHAKE A BABY

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
SBS/AHT is the leading cause of physical Child Abuse in the U. S.

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT) is a term used to describe the constellation of signs and symptoms resulting from violent shaking or shaking and impacting of the head of an infant or small child.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) describes SBS as a subset of AHT with injuries having the potential to result in death or permanent neurologic disability.

The #1 trigger for Shaken Baby Syndrome is frustration with a baby’s crying.

SBS/AHT is the leading cause of physical Child Abuse in the U. S.

Approximately 25% of victims of SBS/AHT die.

FAQ

Can Tossing My Baby in the Air or Rough Play Cause SBS?

SBS is a form of child abuse that happens when an infant or small child is violently shaken.  Shaken injuries are not caused by:

  • Bouncing a baby on your knee.
  • Tossing a baby in the air.
  • Jogging or bicycling with your baby.
  • Falls off a couch or other furniture.
  • Sudden stops in a car or driving over bumps.

Although the activities listed above can be dangerous and are not recommended, they will likely not cause SBS injuries.

Why is Shaking a Baby Dangerous?

Violent shaking for just a few seconds has the potential to cause severe injuries.  While shaking may cause injury to children of any age, children are most susceptible to being injured during their first year of life.  Factors that contribute to a baby’s vulnerability include:

  • Babies heads are heavy and large in proportion to their body size.
  • Babies have weak neck muscles.
  • Babies have fragile, undeveloped brains.
  • There is a large size and strength difference between the victim and the perpetrator.

Facts

SBS/AHT is well researched with over 700 publications in more than 100 peer-reviewed high impact medical journals.

Upwards of 80% of surviving victims of SBS/AHT suffer lifelong disabilities.

Approximately 25% of victims of SBS/AHT die.

SBS/AHT is the leading cause of physical child abuse deaths in the U.S.

SBS/AHT occurs most often in babies less than 6 months old.

There are approximately 1,300 reported cases of SBS/AHT in the U.S. each year.

Possible Signs and Symptoms of SBS/AHT
  • Lethargy / decreased muscle tone
  • Extreme irritability
  • Decreased appetite, poor feeding or vomiting for no apparent reason
  • Grab-type bruises on arms or chest
  • No smiling or vocalization
  • Poor sucking or swallowing
  • Rigidity or posturing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Head or forehead appears larger than usual
  • Soft spot on head appears to be bulging
  • Inability to lift head
  • Inability of eyes to focus or track movement
  • Unequal size of pupils
Consequences of SBS/AHT
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Visual disabilities or blindness
  • Hearing impairment
  • Speech disabilities
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Seizures
  • Behavior disorders
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Death

Information on this page is not intended to replace advice by a health care professional.  If you suspect a child has been shaken, seek immediate medical attention.

Resource:  National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome
https://dontshake.org