What is it?
Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is head trauma resulting from the sudden repeated movement of an infant’s head (SBS) when he is violently shaken. A child is often shaken by a parent, other relative and even a trusted person, exasperated by his cries.
Children under the age of one are particularly vulnerable since they cry more often and their neck and head are more fragile. However, older children can also suffer serious injury if shaken violently.
For more information on SBS, see the bilan du CLIPP or go to the Marie-Vincent Foundation website.
What are the consequences?
They are disastrous: SBS is the leading cause of death resulting from physical abuse. In fact, 20% to 25% of children die from it while 50% to 60% suffer neurological damage with 20% to 25% experiencing developmental delays. Furthermore, 85% will require specialized care throughout their life.
How can it be prevented?
No child should be shaken, regardless of the situation. To keep the frustration from escalating, you must first try to calm the crying child.
Make sure the baby:
- has been fed, burped and changed
- is not too cold or too warm
- is not overly restricted by his clothes
If he continues to cry:
- hold him against you and rub his back
- rock him, sing to him, hold him in your arms and walk around with him
- take him for a ride in the stroller or the car
- give him his pacifier
- create a calm, subdued environment
If he still won’t stop crying:
- put him in his crib
- take a deep breath
- be patient and count till 10
- call someone who can help you or the LigneParents at 1 800 361-5085
How can you detect it?
The most common signs of SBS are:
- unusual drowsiness or extreme irritability
- refusal to eat, minimal eating or vomiting for no apparent reason
- no smiling, eye contact or usual babbling
- body stiffness or convulsions (arms and legs stiffening or flailing uncontrollably)
- difficulty breathing
- uneven dilation of the pupils or the inability to follow a movement with the eyes
For additional information on symptoms of SBS, consult the SOURCES references.
What should you do?
If you think an infant has been shaken, it is important to act quickly. Call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately, even if everything appears normal.