Shaken Baby Syndrome 33351 Introduction

The traumatic sequelae of nonaccidental injuries occurring in infants and young children as a consequence of violent shaking are called shaken baby syndrome.5 The reported mortality rate of 15% underscores the importance of recognizing this form of child abuse [19]. In central Europe, 3.5% of parents confessed to having used violence against their children so that it might have resulted in severe injury and 10% of children admitted to hospital due to injury showed evidence of physical violence; less than 5% of abused children become known to the authorities. The typical victim of shaken baby syndrome is a male infant younger than 6 months of age6 who is alone with the perpetrator at the time of injury [16]. The injury is unrelated to race, gender, socioeconomic status, or education [16].

An infant is more likely to suffer from intracranial and intraocular bleeding as a result of shaking [7] because the head is proportionately larger and heavier relative to the body than that of an older child or adult, and the still weak neck muscles provide less stability and protection.

5 Synonyms include whiplash shaken infant syndrome, battered child syndrome, and child abuse syndrome.

6 Two-thirds of the abused children are babies.

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