SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME OR ABUSIVE HEAD TRAUMA

If you are a parent of a new baby, there may be times when you will become frustrated and maybe even angry when your baby cries. You may have tried everything to comfort him, but nothing seems to help. Sleep is hard to come by and you may find yourself very frustrated.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) or Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) is when a baby is violently shaken. The movement of the baby’s head back and forth can cause bleeding and increased pressure on the brain. A baby’s neck muscles are not strong enough to tolerate this “whiplash” type motion, and the brain is too fragile to handle it. SBS is one of the leading forms of child abuse. Many babies die. Many others have irreversible brain damage. Those who survive may have visual disturbances or blindness, mental injury, paralysis, seizure disorders, learning and speech disabilities or neck and back damage.

If you are feeling as if you cannot deal with your baby’s crying and you have met the baby’s basic needs (clean diaper, fed, appropriate clothes, gently rocked, held, etc.) then stop, think and reach out for help if you need it. There may be times when nothing you do will stop the crying… this is normal. DO NOT SHAKE YOUR BABY. If you think your baby has been shaken, go to the emergency room.

LIST OF THINGS TO THINK ABOUT IF YOU BECOME FRUSTRATED:

  • REMEMBER – NEVER THROW OR SHAKE YOUR BABY NO MATTER WHAT.
  • Take a breath.
  • Close your eyes and count to 10.
  • Put the baby down in his crib and leave for a few minutes to gain composure.
  • Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to take over for a while.
  • Give yourself a “timeout.”
  • Do not pick the baby up until you feel calm.
  • If you feel he is ill, call your healthcare provider right away or take him to the hospital.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME:

  • Irregular, difficult or stopped breathing.
  • Extreme irritability.
  • Seizures or vomiting.
  • Difficulty feeding.
  • Difficulty staying awake.
  • No smiling or vocalization.
  • Inability of eyes to focus or track movement.

If you or a caregiver has violently shaken your baby because of frustration or anger, the most important step you can take is to seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY.

Do not let fear, shame or embarrassment keep you from doing the right thing. Getting the necessary and proper treatment without delay may save your child’s life.

REACH OUT FOR HELP

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome
Mail@dontshake.org
www.dontshake.org
1-888-273-0071 (toll free)
1-801-447-9360

The Shaken Baby Alliance
info@shakenbaby.com
www.shakenbaby.com
1-877-6ENDSBS (toll free)
(1-877-636-37247)

National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
NICHDClearinghouse@mail.nih.gov
www.nichd.nih.gov
1-800-370-2943 (toll free)

The ARC
Info@thearc.org
www.thearc.org
1-301-565-3842

Prevent Child Abuse America
mailbox@preventchildabuse.org
www.preventchildabuse.org
1-312-663-3520

Think First Foundation
Thinkfirst@thinkfirst.org
www.thinkfirst.org
1-800-THINK-56 (toll free)
(1-800-844-6556)

Childhelp
Crisis counselors available 24/7
www.childhelp.org
1-800-4-A-CHILD (toll free)
(1-800-422-4453)