Shaking Up “Shaken Baby Syndrome”

The most tragic event that can befall new parents is the sudden, unexpected death of their baby. Perhaps the only thing worse is that often the parents are then wrongly accused, and indeed prosecuted, owing to the medical community’s misinterpretation of the findings.

OXFORD – The most tragic event that can befall new parents is the sudden, unexpected death of their baby. Perhaps the only thing worse is the parents being wrongly accused of causing the death, and indeed prosecuted, owing to the medical community’s misinterpretation of the findings.

A small number of babies who collapse and die unexpectedly in their first year are found to have one or more of the following three symptoms in common: bleeding just outside the brain (subdural hemorrhage); bleeding at the back of the eye (retinal hemorrhage); and brain swelling.

These same features are also seen in some babies who have suffered trauma, such as falls or motor-vehicle accidents. Yet many babies with these symptoms have no history or medical evidence of trauma (such as fractures, abrasions, or bruises), physical abuse, or neglect.

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