Shaken Baby Syndrome

Raising a newborn can be an exciting new role. But it also comes with late nights, lifestyle changes, and exhaustion, leaving new parents prone to feelings of stress and frustration.

Across the United States, Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a form of abusive head trauma caused from excessive and violent shaking, affects thousands of babies every year.

You might think SBS could never happen to your baby.  But most cases involve biological fathers, stepfathers, and mothers’ boyfriends, followed by mothers.

Research has shown that parents most often shake their baby because they are frustrated that the baby is crying too much. Even though crying can be hard to deal with, shaking, throwing, or hitting your baby is never the right response. This type of shaking can cause a “whiplash” effect that can lead to internal injuries such as bleeding in your baby’s brain or eyes.

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SBS can lead to permanently damaging health effects, including death. The following are just some of the problems that can result from SBS:

1. Loss of consciousness

2. Convulsions or seizures

3. Inability to nurse or eat

4. Blindness

5. Cerebral palsy

6. Severe motor dysfunction

 

If you are pregnant, it helps to learn what to expect when your baby is born. Crying is a normal part of developmental behavior in infants. Babies between two to four months cry longer and more frequently, so they are at greater risk for SBS. They are also easier to shake than older and larger children.

If your baby’s crying has you feeling overwhelmed, there are things you can do to help yourself.

  • It’s okay to put your baby in their crib on their back and call a friend for support.  Make sure to check on the baby every five to ten minutes.
  • Try different ways to calm your baby – like rubbing their back, gently rocking, making a “shhhhh” sound, offering a pacifier or singing.
  • Remember that babies cry a lot in the first few months, but it will get better- crying tapers off dramatically between 3-4 months of age.

For more information check out: http://www.cdc.gov/Concussion/pdf/SBS_Media_Guide_508_optimized-a.pdf