Shaken baby syndrome, is a form of child abuse. When a baby is shaken hard by the shoulders, arms, or legs, it can cause learning disabilities, behavior disorders, visionproblems or blindness, hearing and speech issues, seizures, cerebral palsy, serious brain injury, and permanent disability. In some cases, it can even be fatal.
Ever notice how long it takes babies to hold their heads up? Their neck muscles start out weak and get stronger as they grow. The same goes for their brains, which still need time to develop.
When a baby is shaken, its brain can bounce between the front and back of its skull. This causes it to bleed, bruise, and swell. It only takes a few seconds of aggressive shaking for this to happen.
Being shaken affects babies in many different ways. Symptoms include vomiting, bluish skin, tremors or shakes, breathing issues, and drowsiness. Babies may also become less interested in eating, have trouble sucking, and stop smiling and talking.
•Treatment and Prevention:
Treatment for shaken baby syndrome depends on the injury. Surgery may be needed in an emergency. Some children will need care for the rest of their lives.
Shaken baby syndrome is 100% preventable. It starts with making sure all the baby’s caregivers — parents, grandparents, baby sitters, nannies, etc. — understand two things:
The dangers of shaking a baby, even for a few seconds.
That babies cry a lot at first. The National Center for shaken baby syndrome calls it PURPLE crying:
Peak pattern: At 2-3 months old, babies cry the most.
Unpredictable: Crying starts and stops without reason.
Resistant to soothing: Nothing stops the crying.
Pain-like look on face: When babies cry, they look like they’re in pain, even if they’re not.
Long bouts of crying: Babies can cry for hours at a time.
Evening crying: Some babies cry more in the afternoon and evening.
Sometimes you can stop the crying by rubbing the baby’s back, singing, using “white noise” from an app or the sound of running water, taking a walk, or using a pacifier. Sometimes nothing seems to work. That’s when you especially need to manage your feelings.