Child Safety: Recognizing Shaken Baby Syndrome

Recognizing Shaken Baby SyndromeShaken baby syndrome (SBS) is brain trauma, and sometimes spinal cord trauma caused by shaking or dropping a baby, or by a blow to the head. SBS can be fatal, and survivors can suffer a wide variety of permanent injuries and disabilities. Most victims are under one year old, but it can occur in children up to five years old. If you suspect that your child or a child you are caring for has SBS, seek immediate medical attention. Left untreated the brain damage may continue to progress.

Signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome

The signs and symptoms of SBS can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the part of the brain affected. When the symptoms are mild, it is often misdiagnosed as colic or a virus, but it can still cause long-term problems and disabilities in the child if left untreated. Symptoms of SBS include:

  • Vomiting
  • Unequal pupil size
  • Decreased appetite
  • Poor sucking or swallowing
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Inability to lift head
  • Lack of smiling
  • Lack of vocalizing
  • Inability to focus eyes or track movement
  • Rigidity
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing

Consequences of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Children who survive can suffer with:

  • Blindness or partial vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Speech problems
  • Learning disorders
  • Developmental delays
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures
  • Neck injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis
  • Persistent vegetative state
  • Shaking a Baby is Abuse

SBS is caused by abuse, typically perpetrated by frustrated parents or caregivers. However, even if you feel confident that abuse is not a possibility, get immediate medical help for SBS symptoms. There are other possible causes for brain injuries which mimic SBS.