shaken-baby syndrome

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Related to shaken-baby syndrome: Shaken impact baby syndrome

shaken-baby syndrome

A syndrome seen in abused infants and children, sometimes referred to as “shaken impact syndrome” because of the accompanying impact injuries to the head. The patient has been subjected to violent, whiplash-type shaking injuries inflicted by an abuser. This may cause coma, convulsions, and increased intracranial pressure, resulting from tearing of the cerebral veins, with consequent bleeding into the subdural space. Retinal hemorrhages and bruises on the arms or trunk where the patient was forcefully grabbed are usually present.


About 50,000 cases are reported each year in the U.S. This number probably represents under-reporting.


The presence of retinal hemorrhage, cerebral edema, and subdural hematoma—either individually or in any combination—strongly suggests the diagnosis in the absence of other explanations for the trauma. Radiological imaging is used to identify the specific sites of injury.


The prognosis for affected infants and children is extremely guarded. Only about 15% to 20% of them recover without sequelae, such as vision and hearing impairments, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, and developmental disorders requiring ongoing medical, educational, and behavioral management. See: battered child syndrome; abuse, child


In domestic situations in which a child is abused, it is important to examine other children and infants living in the same home because about 20% of these children will have signs of physical abuse as well. That examination should be done without delay, to prevent further abuse.
References in periodicals archive ?
Prosecutors maintained that the baby's injuries were consistent with shaken-baby syndrome.
The baby died at Northridge of injuries doctors described as indicative of shaken-baby syndrome - brain damage caused by being shaken violently.
Deputy District Attorney John Blair, who argued that Jack's was a classic case of shaken-baby syndrome, said Friday he was very disappointed with the verdict.
Blair pointed to experts on shaken-baby syndrome who said the boy's severe head trauma and retinal hemorrhaging are clear evidence of child abuse.
Later, doctors diagnosed Jack with brain damage due to shaken-baby syndrome.