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Shaken Baby Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Sep 25, 2023

Shaken Baby Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Shaken baby syndrome, a catastrophic brain injury, can result from aggressively shaking a newborn or toddler. It is sometimes referred to as whiplash shaken infant syndrome, abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, and inflicted head damage.

The brain cells of a child with shaken baby syndrome die because their brain does not receive enough oxygen. This type of child abuse can cause severe brain damage or even death.

Shaken baby syndrome can be avoided. Assistance is available for parents who could harm their children. Parents may also explain to other carers the risks associated with shaken infant syndrome.

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Causes Of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Babies' neck muscles are fragile and incapable of supporting the weight of their heads. A baby's delicate brain swings back and forth inside the skull when it is violently disturbed. This results in bleeding, bruising, and edema.

The most common cause of shaken infant syndrome is when a parent or other adult violently shakes a baby or toddler out of annoyance or anger, frequently because the youngster won't stop sobbing.

It's uncommon for minor falls or bouncing a youngster on your knee to result in shaken infant syndrome.

Symptoms Of Shaken Baby Syndrome

The following are some symptoms and warnings of shaken baby syndrome:

  • Excessive fussiness or irritability
  • Having trouble staying awake
  • Breathing issues
  • Poor nutrition
  • Vomiting
  • Skin that is blue or pale
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

There may not be any visible symptoms of physical harm to the child's body, despite the fact that there may occasionally be facial bruising. Blood loss in the brain and eyes, harm to the spinal cord, and fractures of the ribs, head, legs, and other bones are among the injuries that may not be immediately noticeable. Many children with shaken baby syndrome exhibit the signs and symptoms of prior child abuse.

In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may initially seem fine after being shaken, but over time, they may experience behavioral or physiological problems.

Diagnosis Of Shaken Baby Syndrome

A youngster who has been violently shaken has to be examined by a variety of medical specialists as well as a child abuse specialist.

The pediatrician will examine the child and inquire about their medical background. Several tests, such as the following, may be required to find injuries:

  • Skeletal analysis: To assess if fractures are unintentional or intentional, several X-rays of the bones, maybe including the arms, hands, legs, feet, spine, ribs, and skull, may be taken. Finding prior fractures can also be aided by such testing.
  • Eye examination: An eye exam can identify further eye injuries and eye hemorrhage.
  • Blood test: Shaken baby syndrome-like symptoms can be brought on by certain genetic, metabolic, and coagulation abnormalities as well as bleeding and clotting issues. Some of these illnesses can be ruled out with the aid of blood tests.
  • (MRI) Magnetic resonance imaging: A strong magnetic field and radio waves are used in MRI to provide precise images of a child's brain and spine. It can reveal brain bleeding, bruises, and indicators of low oxygen levels. An MRI is often performed two to three days after the injury since it is challenging to do one on an unsteady youngster.
  • CT scan for computerized tomography: Cross-sectional views of the body are produced by a CT scan using X-ray imaging. A brain CT scan can be used to identify injuries that require immediate medical attention. To ascertain whether there are any other injuries, an abdominal CT scan may also be performed.
  • The baby may need to be monitored in a pediatric intensive care unit, depending on the severity of the wounds.

Treatment Of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Breathing assistance and surgery to stop brain hemorrhage may be part of the emergency care for a youngster who has been shaken. To minimize brain swelling and prevent seizures, certain children might need to take medication.

Prevention Of Shaken Baby Syndrome

In addition to teaching parents how to calm a crying baby and manage stress, new parent education sessions may also help parents understand the risks associated with violent shaking.

When your crying infant won't stop, you might be tempted to use harsh methods to stop the tears, but it's important to always be kind to your child. Nothing permits one to shake an infant.

Consult a professional if you need assistance managing your emotions or the stress of parenting. A counselor or other mental health professional may be recommended by your child's doctor.

Make sure they are aware of the risks of shaken infant syndrome if you have hired an attendant, a sibling, or a grandmother to help with your child's care.

Complications Of Shaken Baby Syndrome

An infant's brain might suffer irreparable harm from even brief shaking. Many young children lose their lives as a result of shaken baby syndrome.

Those who have survived the syndrome may need lifelong medical care for ailments like:

  • Complete or partial blindness
  • Developmental delays, academic difficulties, or behavior problems
  • Intellectual disability
  • Disorders of seizures
  • As a result of cerebral palsy, movement and muscle coordination are both affected.

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