Childr Health Information

Shaken baby syndrome

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Topic: Infant Health Care

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about shaken baby syndrome. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to go over any information you do not understand.

Shaken baby syndrome is a medical term for injuries caused when an infant or child is shaken. The injuries occur because the child’s head is whiplashed back and forth during shaking. Babies can be seriously injured when shaken since their neck muscles are not strong enough to control head movements. Not only are their neck muscles relatively weak, but their heads are large and their brains are still developing.

The brain is injured because of severe forces created by violent shaking and, in many cases, the impact of the head against a surface. Bleeding behind the eyes and in and around the brain can occur and cause serious injury. Other effects may include seizures, partial or total blindness, paralysis, mental retardation or death. In cases of less violent and sometimes continual shaking of a young child, longterm problems can include developmental delays and learning problems that affect the child through the school years and beyond.

Sometimes babies are shaken out of ignorance. Parents or caregivers may think shaking is safer than spanking. Studies show that almost 50 percent of teenagers and adults do not know that shaking a baby is dangerous. Most shaking follows constant crying which tends to frustrate and anger the parent or caregiver. Sometimes children are shaken out of frustration over toilet training, feeding problems or because the child interrupts conversation or other activities. It is important to remember all babies cry. Taking care of young children is hard work and when they cry it might seem even harder. Caregivers may feel angry, tense, worried or sad. It’s understandable to have these feelings, but it is never okay to take them out on a child. It’s never okay to shake young children – shaking them can cause severe injuries, even death.
What can be done to safely calm a crying baby?
♦ Hold the baby close and slowly walk around the room
♦ Offer the baby a pacifier
♦ Take the baby for a walk in a stroller
♦ Sit and rock the baby slowly
♦ Count to 10 or 100
♦ Try feeding the baby – he or she might be hungry
♦ Take deep, slow breaths
♦ Read or talk softly to the baby
♦ Take a drive with the baby in a car seat
♦ Lay the baby in a crib or playpen while you relax in another room for a few minutes. It’s okay if the baby/child keeps crying while you calm down
♦ Ask a trusted friend or relative to take care of the baby for an hour or two
♦ Call a health care provider – if the baby has been crying for a long period of time, he or she may need medical care
♦ Lower noise and lights to help reduce the child’s stress
♦ If possible, set up a daily routine – most children like to eat or sleep at the same time each day
♦ Do something you enjoy every day – go for a walk, read a book, write a letter, listen to music
♦ Take a parenting class. Make friends with other parents – call each other when you need support or break from your child
♦ If you ever feel like hurting your child – Stop! Instead call a friend, relative or health care provider
Never Shake a Baby!
A child will outgrow crying, but shaking can cause brain damage and death.

PDF: Child Health Information - SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 2003

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 2003


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