What is shaken baby syndrome as seen in the Louise Woodward case?
RECENT figures reveal more than 220 infants have been killed or injured as the result of being shaken in recent years, with experts believing this figure is just the tip of the iceberg.
One in six inflicted infant deaths is now as a result of shaking – with one case every week in the UK.
What is shaken baby syndrome?
Dr. Harvey Karp, CEO of Happiest Baby inc, explains: “Shaken baby syndrome is arguably the deadliest form of child abuse.
“It usually occurs before 12 months of age (Peak around four months of age during the colicky phase of infancy) when a parent finally loses patience with their inability to sooth the babies crying and grabs the baby by the shoulders rapidly shaking the baby’s body out of frustration.
“The babies heavy head may be hit against a surface or snapped back-and-forth on the infant’s thin neck causing the soft brain inside to bang against the hard inside of the skull causing brain swelling and tearing tiny veins causing life threatening bleeding.
“Clearly, the serious cases are the tip of the iceberg.
"Many children may have minimal brain damage that is not diagnosed but perhaps goes on to cause neurological problems such as attention deficit and learning problems.”
John McMullan, consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at Sheffield Children's Hospital, told the BBC that shaking a baby caused brain injuries similar to those in boxing.
But he said: "In boxing the incidences of the head blows are relatively infrequent and so that damage is taking place over, typically, years.
"Whereas with an infant shaking, the damage is occurring in seconds."
What are symptoms and signs of shaken baby syndrome?
According to Mayo Clinic shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:
- Extreme fussiness or irritability
- Difficulty staying awake
- Breathing problems
- Poor eating
- Pale or bluish skin
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