Baby Getting Pregnant

Shaken Baby Syndrome – The Silent Abuse

Shaken Baby SyndromeNo matter how much we may choose to deny it, child abuse is a very real issue, leaving innocent children scarred physically or emotionally for the rest of their lives. More often than we’d like to admit, the abuse even takes their fragile lives from them.

A frighteningly high percentage of child abuse around the world can be attributed to shaken baby syndrome. This form of child abuse often leads to death, if not severe brain damage and takes the form of violent shaking of the child usually because the baby will not stop crying. It can be described as silent abuse as there are no outward signs, but the internal effects are immense, as they are with all forms of child abuse.

Fingers cannot always be pointed at the child’s care giver as many parents are responsible for this type of abuse. But often this kind of abuse is performed by the very hands trusted by parents to care for their baby.


Unacceptable behaviour on all levels

Shaken baby syndrome usually occurs to a child under the age of one year. The parent or caregiver may shake the child repeatedly out of frustration because of the baby’s incessant crying. This behaviour is unacceptable at all levels, but if you think of the child’s size in relation to the shaking involved it is simply ludicrous and nothing less than cruel.

However there are other circumstances which can lead to this condition. Shaken baby syndrome can also be a result of unintentional fast movement, so it’s vital you remember never to hold your baby while in the throes of an argument, and do not run with a small baby.

Holding your baby while having an argument with someone is extremely dangerous as your infant’s head can easily hit something, and even hitting something soft like a pillow can cause head injuries.

Babies have big and heavy heads for the size of their bodies and they have very fragile, under developed neck muscles. Their brains are not mature and therefore they still need room to grow. This means that there is a space between the skull and the brain to allow for future development as they grow.

Shaken baby syndrome can occur within five seconds of the baby being shaken.


Bruising and bleeding

Shaking a baby in a violent way is not just morally wrong but it can cause the brain to move inside the skull, resulting in bruising of brain tissue and the tearing of blood vessels. Most often the injuries associated with shaken baby syndrome include bleeding around the brain, which is known as subdural and subarachnoid haemorrhages, bleeding in the eyes which is known as retinal haemorrhages, and injuries to the spinal cord or neck area.

These injuries are not usually immediately recognisable. Vomiting and irritability can be warning signs in the early stages, caused by an increase in pressure from the brain swelling and bleeding.

Very often, in time, lethargy and a decreased alertness add themselves to the mix, as do a difficulty in breathing and possible seizures. As the condition worsens the baby in question may lose consciousness, suffer from a loss of vision or take on a pale or bluish skin tone.


What are the treatments for shaken baby syndrome?

If you even suspect that a baby has suffered injuries of shaken baby syndrome it’s essential to get the child immediate emergency care. This would include emergency respiratory support and possible surgery. Very often a baby in such condition will need the blood around his brain drained to give the swollen brain space and therefore relieve the pressure of the swollen brain against the skull. Other treatments would also be necessary such as ophthalmologic and neurological checks.


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