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Shaken Baby Syndrome

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What is a Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a form of abusive head trauma and inflicted traumatic brain injury, is a preventable and severe form of physical child abuse. It results from shaking an infant by the shoulders, arms, or legs. SBS may result from both shaking alone or from impact (with or without shaking). The resulting whiplash effect can cause bleeding within the brain or the eyes.

Nearly all victims of SBS suffer serious health consequences and at least one of every four babies who are violently shaken dies from this form of child maltreatment.

Know the Facts about SBS:
• SBS is a cause of child deaths.
• Babies (newborn to 4 months) are at greatest risk of injury from shaking.
• Inconsolable crying is a primary trigger for shaking a baby.

How Can SBS Be Prevented?

Research shows that shaking most often results from crying or other factors that may trigger the person caring for the baby to become frustrated or angry.

The fact is that crying—including long bouts of inconsolable crying—is normal developmental behaviour in infants. The problem is not the crying; however, it’s how caregivers respond to it. Picking up a baby and shaking, throwing, hitting, or hurting him/her is never an appropriate response.

Everyone, from caregivers to bystanders, can do something to prevent SBS. Giving parents and caregivers tools to know how they can cope if they find themselves becoming frustrated are important components of any SBS prevention initiative.

You can play a key role in reinforcing prevention through helping people understand the dangers of violently shaking a baby, the risk factors and the triggers for it, and ways to lessen the load on stressed out parents and caregivers. All of which may help to reduce the number of children impacted by SBS.

Professionals working with families

• Getting the Message Out
• Building Partnerships
• Impacting Policy

Preventing shaken baby syndrome
A guide for Health Departments and community-based organisations

Baby 4

Download a free copy of the guide

Useful links

NSPCC - A guide to keeping your baby safe

NSPCC - Baby and toddler safety

Questions and answers

Stop that shake video

Safeguarding information

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