Isabella Galan: Fighting Against Shaken Baby Syndrome

For more than four hours on Saturday, a 12-year-old girl will crochet caps for newborns that will be donated to charities to use in their education campaigns regarding shaken baby syndrome.

Isabella Galan, a seventh-grader at Immaculate Heart of Mary School, is hoping others will join her, her mother, a few classmates and others to crochet or knit the caps with them at Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church on Ratzer Road, or donate supplies the purple yarn needed to make the hats.

“Isabella’s thrilled and this has all inspired her so that she wants to make it a yearly event,” said Maria Galan, Isabella’s mother. “It’s such a positive day so we’re both really excited for Saturday.”

Isabella plans to donate the caps to Prevent Child Abuse in New Jersey, which will donate the caps to hospitals throughout New Jersey. The charity is a partner with Oklahoma-based Clicks for Babies, which is running the hat-making campaign.

“When you have a young person like her taking this on and helping us combat child abuse, it’s incredible,” said Gina Hernandez, the vice president of Prevent Child Abuse in New Jersey. “We’re so incredibly excited to partner with her and have her as part of our team.”

Isabella began knitting the caps after she learned about Clicks for Babies campaign and that some parents shake their newborn children and either kill them or permanently injure them.

“She was beside herself that people can really do it,” Maria Galan said.

In the past month, Isabella and Maria Galan have made 35 caps. Isabella has recruited her school’s knitting club to help make the hats and about half a dozen others have joined the effort.

The hats are meant to remind new parents that they should never shake a baby.

The Galan family will continue collecting hats until Sept. 27.

Supplies and finished caps can be donated at the Immaculate Heart church or Maria Galan can be contacted by emailing her at

Click here to read the original version of this article.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.


Shaken Baby Syndrome And You

Abusive head trauma (AHT), which includes Shaken Baby Syndrome, is a preventable and severe form of physical child abuse that results in an injury to the brain of an infant or child. AHT is most common in children under age five, with children under one year of age at most risk. It is caused by violent shaking and/or with blunt impact. The resulting injury can cause bleeding around the brain or on the inside back layer of the eyes.

Nearly all victims of AHT suffer serious, long-term health consequences such as vision problems, developmental delays, physical disabilities, and hearing loss. At least one of every four babies who experience AHT dies from this form of child abuse.

Research shows that AHT often happens when a parent or caregiver becomes angry or frustrated because of a child’s crying. The caregiver then shakes the child and/or hits or slams the child’s head into something in an effort to stop the crying.

Crying—including long bouts of inconsolable crying—is normal behavior in infants. Shaking, throwing, hitting, or hurting a baby is never the right response to crying.

How Can Abusive Head Trauma Be Prevented?

You can play a key role in preventing AHT by understanding the dangers of violently shaking or hitting a baby’s head into something, knowing the risk factors and the triggers for abuse, and finding ways to support parents and caregivers in your community. CDC’s technical package for preventing child abuse and neglect[PDF 3.90MB] identifies a number of strategies to help states and communities prioritize prevention activities based on the best available evidence.

If you are a parent or caregiver

  • Understand that infant crying is worse in the first few months of life, but it will get better as the child grows.
  • Try calming a crying baby by rocking gently, offering a pacifier, singing or talking softly, taking a walk with a stroller, or going for a drive in the car.
  • If the baby won’t stop crying, check for signs of illness and call the doctor if you suspect the child is sick.
  • If you are getting upset or losing control, focus on calming yourself down. Put the baby in a safe place and walk away to calm down, checking on the baby every 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Call a friend, relative, neighbor, or parent helpline for support.
  • Never leave your baby with a person who is easily irritated or has a temper or history of violence.

If you are a friend, family member, or observer of a parent or caregiver

  • Be aware of new parents in your family and community who may need help or support.
  • Provide support by offering to give a parent or caregiver a break when needed.
  • Let the parent know that dealing with a crying baby can be very frustrating—especially when they are tired or stressed, but infant crying is normal and it will pass.
  • Encourage parents and caregivers to take a calming break if needed while the baby is safe in the crib.
  • Be sensitive and supportive in situations when parents are trying to calm a crying baby.
  • Be supportive of work policies (e.g., paid family leave) that make it easier for working parents to stay with their infants during the period of increased infant crying (i.e., between 4-20 weeks of age).

Click here to read the original version of this article.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

Mother Speaks Out After Baby Is Violently Shaken

An eight-month-old baby is at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Police say they believe the infant was shaken by her babysitter. The babysitter in the case has been lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

She’s been charged with assault one, but depending on the baby’s condition, those charges could change.

“I’m heartbroken. Completely heartbroken,” the baby’s mother said.

Angelica Cadwallader’s heart sank when she received a phone call last Friday afternoon telling her that her 7-month-old — now 8-month-old — baby was unconscious.

“I never thought in a million years I’d get a 911 call like this… my goal has always been to protect my baby girl,” Cadwallader said.

Cadwallader says baby autumn was being watched by an old friend in Medford while she was at work.

“I trusted her… 110 percent I gave her all my trust,” Cadwallader said.

Medford Police say they believe Autumn was shaken by her babysitter.

“Serious concerns when we have an unconscious 7-month-old child. It raises a lot of red flags and concerns that we have,” Lieutenant Kerry Curtis said.

According to police, detectives determined it wasn’t an accident.

25-year-old Alicia Gunn has been charged with assault one and was indicted by a grand jury on Tuesday.

“Putting your child in the trust into somebody else to take care of your child and then to learn that something terrible has happened… is… I can’t imagine what they’re going through. I’m sure it’s absolutely devastating to them,” Lieutenant Kerry Curtis said.

Cadwallader says she’s trying to remain positive.

“She was like a firecracker. She was so happy and she just learned to crawl… always on the go since she learned to crawl,” Cadwallader said.

And she says she’s doing all she can to stay strong for her baby girl.

“I hope that… I get to bring her home soon,” Cadwallader said.

Police say Autumn is still suffering from seizures and bleeding in the brain.

If you’d like to help the family, you can find the GoFundMe link here.

One of the biggest factors leading to Shaken Baby Syndrome is a caregiver just getting frustrated with a baby’s crying and ultimately shaking the baby.

Educators like Tracy Hanson say it’s important to know how to handle a child going through a period of what is called ‘purple crying’ – a phase in a baby’s development when they cry the most.

“The most important thing is to place your baby in a safe environment and step away if we’re feeling frustrated or if we’re feeling overwhelmed because we know that a crying baby truly is one of the things that can lead to Shaken Baby Syndrome,” Providence Birthplace Educator Tracy Hanson said.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, there are around 1,300 reported cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome every year and upwards of 80 percent of survivors suffer lifelong disabilities.

Click here to read the original version of this article.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

What You Should Know About Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome refers to a type of brain injury that happens when a baby or a toddler is shaken violently. More often than not, this shaking is perpetuated by someone who has normal contact with the baby. Shaking can cause bleeding in the brain (subdural hemorrhages) or bleeding in the retinas (retinal hemorrhages).

When a child is shaken, the brain bounces back and forth against the sides of the skull. Infants’ heads are very large and heavy in proportion to the rest of their bodies. This causes swelling, bruising, and bleeding in the brain.

If you see someone shaking or abusing a baby (physically or verbally), don’t wait! Intervene immediately, and call the police.

What are the symptoms of SBS?

A child or baby who has been shaken and has pressure on the brain may have symptoms such as these:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite or feeding problems
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Lethargy (extreme tiredness, lack of movement, inability to stay awake)
  • Pale- or blue-colored skin
  • Bruising, such as grab marks, on the arms or chest
  • A forehead that appears larger than usual, or a soft spot that seems to be bulging
  • Inability to lift his or her head
  • Tremors (the shakes)
  • Inability to focus or follow movement with his or her eyes
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

Who is most at risk for SBS?

SBS happens most often in infants up to one year, with infants aged two to four months being most at-risk. SBS does not usually happen after age two, but children as old as five or six can be damaged in this way if the shaking is extremely violent.

Why do people shake babies?

There are a number of reasons that explain why someone might shake a baby, but none of those reasons are valid. It’s a crime to shake a baby, and the consequences could mean the death of a young child.

How is SBS treated?

SBS should be treated immediately. Parents or caregivers need to take the child for emergency medical attention as soon as they are aware that the baby has been shaken. The adults should also tell the healthcare provider that the baby has been shaken. Caregivers who are not telling the truth may say that the child has fallen. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, children may require treatment such as respiratory support or surgery to stop bleeding.

Some symptoms show up right away, but others may not show up until later. Some children may experience attention problems and behavior problems later in life due to being shaken when they were infants.

How is SBS diagnosed?

Health care providers do not always get the truth about whether or not shaking was involved in an injury. Also, babies and very small children cannot tell doctors or nurses what happened or what hurts. Many symptoms of SBS (such as irritability, vomiting, or lethargy) are also common for minor conditions like viral infections.

It has been suggested that doctors should use additional tests when a brain injury appears possible. X-rays can show skull fractures and doctors may suggest magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests or computed tomography (CT) scans. Special attention should be given to evidence of retinal bleeding (bleeding at the back of the eyes).

Is SBS preventable?

Yes. Do not shake babies or children, EVER.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

You Can Fight Shaken Baby Syndrome

Can you crochet or knit? The Oklahoma State Department of Health is looking for donations of purple, handmade newborn hats for its Click for Babies campaign.

Birthing centers across the state will distribute hats to babies born in November and December, along with information that can prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Organizers want purple for a purpose.

“The Period of PURPLE crying is the period in an infant’s life when they’re going to cry more so than any other time in their life,” Amy Terry, the department’s adolescent health coordinator, said. “And during that period parents need to understand that that’s a normal part of development.”

PURPLE is an acronym that stands for the traits exhibited during the time frame:

  • Peak of crying – the Period of PURPLE starts around two weeks, peaks at two months and ends around three-to-four months.
  • Unexpected – during this period, crying can come and go and you don’t know why.
  • Resists soothing – it can be difficult to get crying to stop, no matter what you try.
  • Pain-like face – babies look like they’re in pain while crying, when they are not.
  • Long-lasting – babies may cry up to or more than five hours a day.
  • Evening – crying is more common in the late afternoon and evening.

“Shaken baby is most often caused by frustration with crying,” Terry said. “So that’s why it’s so important that we educate families and we educate caregivers about this period in time when babies are going to cry more often.”

According to the State Health Department, every year Shaken Baby Syndrome happens to 1,200 to 1,400 children across the U.S. and more than 300 babies die because of shaking.

“Shaken Baby is one of those issues that is 100% preventable and education has shown to make an impact on reducing it,” Terry said.

In order for hats to be distributed in the cold months, donations must come in by October 1. The department will continue to accept donations past that day, but they will not go to hospitals for distribution until the following year.

Terry said the goal is to collect 4,300 hats.

Organizers ask hats be about 14 inches in diameter and at least 50% purple. They must be free of choking hazards like pom-poms and made of soft yarn.

Mail donations to: Oklahoma State Department of Health, ATTN: Maternal and Child Health, 1000 NE 10th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1299.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

Never Shake A Baby!

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) – also commonly known as abusive head trauma (AHT) – is a severe and preventable form of child abuse which often results in traumatic brain injury, and in extreme cases can lead to death. Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a child (usually under the age of five) is forcibly shaken. Even if the shaking is done only for a few seconds, the resulting injuries are almost always severe, and life-altering. Children who have been shaken often experience bleeding behind the eyes, and around the brain which can lead to a variety of disabilities.

Most survivors of SBS suffer from long-term disabilities due to being shaken as a child, including vision problems, physical disabilities, hearing loss, delayed learning, and many others. One in every four children who go through this abuse perishes from their injuries.

Shaken Baby Syndrome and abusive head trauma happen most frequently when a parent or guardian becomes angry or frustrated with the child, and resort to shaking him or her. This most commonly happens to infants who are crying for long periods of time. When the child won’t stop crying, sometimes frustrated adults will shake the child in an effort to stop the crying. However, the actions committed in those few moments of anger can drastically change a child’s entire life.

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a form of abuse that is completely preventable. It is normal for infants to cry for long periods of time, and as they grow older, the crying will subside. Frustration is a natural feeling, but shaking a baby is NEVER the correct response.

If you have a baby that won’t stop crying, take a step back and realize that even just a few seconds of shaking can take your child’s life.

Shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor eating
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

Other injuries that may not be initially noticeable include bleeding in the brain and eye, damage to the spinal cord and neck and fractures of the ribs, and bones. Evidence of prior child abuse also is common.

In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken, but over time he or she may develop health, learning or behavior problems.

When to see a doctor

Seek immediate help if you suspect your child has been injured by violent shaking.

Contact your child’s doctor or take your child to the nearest emergency room. Getting medical care right away may save your child’s life or prevent serious health problems.

Healthcare professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities.

Never shake a baby!

Visit my website today to learn more.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Is Real

Although the scientific and medical communities are in agreement: Shaken Baby Syndrome is real and that young children die from it every year, there still exists some who claim that it doesn’t, and those people are not basing this opinion on fact, but rather, some kind of pseudo-medical science.

According to, “Shaken baby syndrome was first described in the 1960s to describe the combination of several injuries: subdural hematoma (bleeding around the brain), retinal hemorrhages (bleeding at the back of the eye), and brain swelling. Rib fractures are also common because the person doing the shaking typically squeezes the child’s chest hard enough to crack ribs. How do these injuries happen with shaking? The fundamental cause is that a small baby has a relatively large head compared to the rest of his body and is unable to hold his head firmly in place because the muscles aren’t strong enough yet to do that. So shaking snaps the head back and forth, generating very large forces inside the skull as the brain bangs back and forth. This can lead to rupture of some of the small veins that surround the brain, as well as tiny vessels in the back of the eye. The brain then often swells afterward, as any tissue does when injured. If death or severe injury follows, it is generally because of the brain swelling. If ribs are broken from squeezing the chest, the fractures happen at the back of the bones where the ribs come off the spinal column. It is often illustrated in this way.”

There a few reasons that exist which explain why some individuals make the claim that Shaken Baby Syndrome isn’t real, but their primary argument revolves around a lack of understanding of medical science. According to a 2001 book The Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Multidisciplinary Approach, “’It is this absence of external signs of abuse which makes the early diagnosis of SBS so difficult.’ Shaken baby syndrome excites such controversy partly because it invokes the specter of horrible cruelty to an innocent, often in the immediate wake of the child’s death. Yet in the classic SBS case, signs of child abuse that one might expect– suspicious bruises, burns, cuts, or other injuries– are missing.” As it can be gathered from this quote, there is no factual evidence to prove what is being put forward here. In fact, victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome have the appearance of someone who has been violently stricken and beaten up.

As is the case with most things in life, remain calm and don’t let your anger get the best of you when you’re dealing with a young child! Anger and frustration are the lead causes for someone to lash-out and hurt their own baby or the baby they’re watching. Also, don’t let children handle babies by themselves, because children (under the age of 12) don’t fully know how much stronger they are than a baby, and they might shake a baby and not fully understand the ramifications of their actions.

Regardless, you as an adult are responsible for your actions, and you are never to shake a baby! It doesn’t matter what that baby has done to you… if you do something to hurt a baby, you’ll pay the price: you’ll go to jail, you’ll lose your family, and you might even kill someone. So think twice about shaking. And if you hear that Shaken Baby Syndrome isn’t real, remember that those people are liars, probably among the same order as people who used to claim that smoking was healthy for you, or that blood-letting was going to heal George Washington of his aliments.

Scott Juceam is an advocate against Shaken Baby Syndrome. He became one after his baby daughter was shaken to death by her own nanny.

Couple Arrested In Shaken Baby Case

This article originally appeared in

PRINCETON – Serious eye injuries, multiple brain bleeds and fractured bones in various stages of healing that were discovered when a 3-month-old infant was brought to a local hospital has led to his parents being indicted by the Mercer County Grand Jury.

Cory Nelson Hawks, 24, and Bridgette Katrina Hawks, 28, both of Princeton, have each been indicted by the grand jury, according to records released Friday by the Mercer County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

In both indictments, the grand jury charged that between May 21 and Aug. 16, 2015, Cory Hawks inflicted “serious bodily injury” by “shaking, striking, pushing, and pulling the infant” in a way that caused multiple bone fractures, brain bleeds, and retinal hemorrhaging in his eyes. He was indicted on a charge of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Bridgette Hawks was indicted for child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

Cory and Bridgette Hawks are the child’s biological parents, according to the report filed by Sgt. M.D. Clemons of the West Virginia State Police Crimes against Children Unit. The case began Aug. 17, 2015, when Clemons was contacted by the state Department of Health and Human Resources about a 3-month-old male infant who was brought to Princeton Community Hospital the previous day by the Princeton Rescue Squad.

Bridgette Hawks called Mercer County 911 at 6:22 a.m. Aug. 16, 2015, to advise that her son had stopped breathing and that her husband had “accidently” fallen on her son, according to Clemons. The infant started having seizures after arriving at PCH and was transferred by ambulance to Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) where more tests were performed.

“An MRI showed that (the baby) had suffered cardiorespiratory arrest, ischemia (blood flow and oxygen going to the heart restricted) and multiple brain bleeds,” Clemons said in the report. “An X-ray revealed old fractures of the right fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs, a right femur fracture, and a right radius fracture. All of the fractures were in various stages of healing.”

An examination of the infant’s eyes “indicated retinal hemorrhages which are indicative of ‘shaken baby syndrome.’ Consultation reports from Charleston Area Medical Center indicated by child abuse was definitive,” Clemons stated.

Clemons contacted the infant’s treating physician, who had seen the same injuries on him. The doctor said that the injuries “were not consistent with the father’s explanation that he had tripped over the cat while holding (the infant).” The doctor also stated that the injuries were consistent with shaking.

After an interview, Bridgette Hawks advised Clemons that she would be willing to take a polygraph examination. Corporal M.S. Efrid, the polygraph examiner for the State Police, performed one on Sept. 10, 2015. Hawks said she understood her rights, waived her right to counsel, and agreed to be interviewed about the child abuse allegations.

“Upon completion of the examination Corporal Efrid determined that ‘deception was indicated,'” Clemons said.

Clemons and Efrid discussed the findings with Bridgette Hawks, who said Cory had become angry at her and pushed her against the wall while she was pregnant with her son.

“Ms. Hawks disclosed that Cory would become impatient with (the infant) while dressing him and ‘yank’ his arms through the sleeves of his shirt. She also described another incident.

“Ms. Hawks further disclosed that a few days before (the infant) started crying about his belly, she was woken up from … ‘popping’ or ‘snapping’ noises when she was taking a nap. Ms. Hawks stated that she woke up and asked Cory what happened and he said nothing but at that time Cory was holding (the infant).”

According to the incident report, Cory Hawks told Clemons that he had spoken with his attorney and had been advised not to speak about the allegations.

Clemons consulted an occupational therapist who said that the infant continued to show “developmental delays in all areas.” He is able to walk around, but not safely because he had problems seeing things in his lower visual fields. The therapist also said he is saying some words, but should be saying short phrases or sentences by now. He has been diagnosed with “cortical visual impairment” that will likely create challenges for him when he starts school and they begin to work on literacy.

The child, who is now 2 years old, also has difficulties with fine motor coordination, according to the therapist, Clemons said.

“He is unable to complete daily living activities for himself to the degree that other 2 year olds can do,” Clemons stated in the report. The child could also have problems due to impaired language and “likely difficulty managing his emotions because he gets frustrated when his needs are not understood.” The child also has started to bang his head to the extent that he is left bruised when he is angry or upset.

Man Given 25 Years in Shaken Baby Death

This article originally appeared on

Todd Howell pleaded guilty, gets 10 years of probation after state prison

A Jacksonville man who pleaded guilty in the 2013 murder of his girlfriend’s 22-month-old daughter was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in state prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

Todd Howell claimed he dropped Kylieann Burress in November 2013 at the Villages of Baymeadows apartments and then shook her in an attempt to wake her up.

The 22-month-old stopped breathing and was rushed unresponsive to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where she died about 12 hours later from shaken baby syndrome.

“Nobody in the world should ever have to see that,” the girl’s paternal grandfather, John Burress, said. “No child should ever have to be put through that, because it is just inhumane. It’s not right.”

Police said the incident happened after Howell took the girl’s mother to work. The two had been together for two months.

Judge Waddell Wallace said what happened was inexcusable and unjustifiable when he sentenced Howell to 25 years in state prison. Howell had pleaded guilty a month ago to killing the little girl.

Howell’s attorney and the State Attorney’s Office agreed to the sentence, along with Kylieann’s family, although her grandparents said they are far from satisfied and had hoped for more prison time.

“The punishment never fits the crime,” the toddler’s paternal grandmother, Carolyn Burress, said. “He took her life.”

Kylieann’s father, her grandparents and her aunt were among those who gave impact statements Thursday.

“We’ve got so many pictures that tell a story, a story that we can never get back and one that we could never move forward with,” Carolyn Burress, said.

John Burress said any time they spent with the bashful, sweet toddler was special.

“She was just that type of captivating person that would laugh and smile, even if she was sleeping,” John Burress said. “She was the perfect child to us.”

Howell spoke briefly, but did not directly apologize to Kylieann’s family.

“It is unfortunate what has come about in the situation,” Howell said. “I know that I loved her. I miss her every day, and I don’t have too much more to say.”

He was taken into custody after the hearing. He had been out on home detention. His family was in the courtroom, but left before making any comments.

Kylieann’s grandparents said the laws need to change so that the punishment is harsher for those who kill children. They also said parents need to be careful with who they let watch their children. They said they hope speaking out will save another child’s life.

The Department of Children and Families told News4Jax that two-thirds of all child abuse and neglect cases in the nation come at the hands of a single mother’s boyfriend. The majority of those cases involve children under the age of 3, which can make it difficult, but not impossible to stop problems before it’s too late.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

What Is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken Baby Syndrome– also known as abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, inflicted head injury or whiplash shake syndrome– is a serious brain injury resulting from forcefully shaking an infant or very young child.

Shaken Baby Syndrome destroys a child’s brain cells and prevents their brain from getting enough oxygen. Shaken Baby Syndrome is a form of child abuse that can result in permanent brain damage or death. Shaken Baby Syndrome is preventable. Parents also can educate other caregivers about the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Click here to learn more.

Abusive head trauma (AHT) is an injury to a child’s brain as a result of child abuse. It can be caused by direct blows to the head, dropping or throwing a child, or shaking a child.

Head trauma is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. Because the anatomy of infants puts them at particular risk for injury from this kind of action, the majority of victims are infants younger than 1 year old.

SBS can happen in children up to 5 years old, but the average age of victims is between 3 and 8 months. The highest rate of cases is among infants just 6 to 8 weeks old, which is when babies tend to cry the most.

How Do Head Trauma Injuries Happen?

These injuries happen when someone (most often a parent or other caregiver) vigorously shakes a child or strikes the child’s head against a surface. In many cases, the caregiver can’t get the baby to stop crying, and out of frustration or anger, shakes the baby. Unfortunately, the shaking may have the desired effect: The baby cries more at first, but may stop crying as the brain is damaged.

When someone forcefully shakes a baby, the child’s head rotates uncontrollably. This is because infants’ neck muscles aren’t well developed and provide little support for their heads. This violent movement pitches the baby’s brain back and forth within the skull, sometimes rupturing blood vessels and nerves throughout the brain and tearing the brain tissue. The brain may strike the inside of the skull, causing bruising and bleeding to the brain.

The damage can be even greater when a shaking episode ends with an impact (hitting a wall or a crib mattress, for example), because the forces of acceleration and deceleration associated with an impact are so strong. After the shaking, swelling in the brain can cause enormous pressure within the skull, compressing blood vessels and increasing overall injury to the brain’s delicate structure.

Normal interaction with a child, like bouncing the baby on a knee or tossing the baby up in the air, will not cause these injuries. But it’s important to never shake a baby under any circumstances!

What Can Happen to a Baby With Head Trauma?

Shaken Baby Syndrome often causes irreversible damage, and about 1 in every 4 cases results in the baby’s death.

Children who survive may also experience:

  • partial or total blindness
  • hearing loss
  • seizures
  • developmental delays
  • impaired intellect
  • speech and learning difficulties
  • problems with memory and attention
  • severe mental retardation
  • cerebral palsy

Even babies who look normal immediately after the shaking might eventually develop one or more of these problems. Sometimes the first sign of a problem isn’t noticed until the child enters the school system and has behavioral or learning problems. But by that time, it’s harder to link these problems to a shaking incident from several years before.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

*Information listed above comes from the Mayo Clinic.