Shaken baby syndrome occurs in young babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Children up to the age of 1 year are usually the victims. Shaken baby syndrome can be classified as child abuse, but can also be caused by ignorance or panic on the part of the parents or caregivers. The child may suffer serious injuries or even die. How serious is shaken baby syndrome?
What is shaken baby syndrome?
The shaken baby syndrome, also often written as the shaken baby syndrome (separately), is a list of consequences that arise from a baby that has been shaken hard. It is most common in young babies between 2 and 10 months old. So it is not a congenital defect and not a disease.
Although shaken baby syndrome mainly occurs in infants, it is also seen in toddlers. This can still be said of for about four years. Afterwards, the injury will often be different due to the child’s stronger constitution. Shaken baby syndrome is usually inflicted on the child by the parent or caregiver, but the babysitter or a daycare worker can also be the perpetrator.
The cause and symptoms
The cause of shaken baby syndrome is clear: the child has been shaken hard by someone else, usually the caregiver. This can often be traced back to long-term stress such as a crying baby, relationship problems, an illness or a disorder that at some point triggers the alarm and the child is violently shaken. But a reaction of panic can also cause the caregiver to shake the child. Consider, for example, a baby who lies motionless in his crib or suddenly stops breathing. Out of panic, the child may be picked up and shaken in an attempt to save the child’s life.
An adult body can generally absorb vibrations and shaking of the body well with the neck. The neck muscles are firm and well developed. This is different for children under the age of four; the neck muscles are not yet sufficiently developed to absorb large forces. In addition, young children have relatively large heads, which means that the head swings up and down more quickly than older children. Babies under 1 year old in particular have great difficulty keeping their heads in balance. The head is still very large compared to the body and the neck muscles are still so weak that they are unable to support the head properly.
Often just shaking for 5 to 10 seconds is enough to cause shaken baby syndrome. By shaking the head makes a large forward and downward movement, which greatly stretches the neck muscles. The vertebrae can sustain an impact and the brain is pressed against the skull. The immediate consequences are often nausea and vomiting, crying, bloody eyes and difficulty breathing. Sometimes the baby does not want to drink or has difficulty doing so. The child may become blind or deaf. Later the child may have difficulty learning the language, difficulty learning and general development sometimes lags behind. Mental retardation can also develop.
Sometimes death follows
In severe cases, bleeding occurs in the brain and the child falls into a coma. Quick action is now required. Sometimes it is possible to limit further damage. The damage the child has already suffered is irreversible. The child will never be cured again. Sometimes death occurs due to shaken baby syndrome. This is a serious matter that could have been prevented.
Shaken baby syndrome does not always fall under child abuse; When the child is shaken in a panic reaction, this cannot be said to be child abuse, but rather a reaction in blind panic. Shaken baby syndrome is often linked to child abuse. Doctors who are confronted with a healthy baby sometimes report it to Veilig Thuis in case of doubt. Shaking a child unnecessarily always constitutes child abuse. The child can suffer serious and sometimes permanent injuries.
In America in particular, shaken baby syndrome is also associated with damage caused by injections administered to babies. This concerns the so-called vaccines for health. In some cases, a vaccine can cause permanent damage to the baby’s brain. The parent is often accused of shaken baby syndrome. The damage that a vaccine can cause to a baby is similar to the symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. It is therefore sometimes confusing for doctors to discover the exact cause of the injury.