Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Prevalent Danger
- Twenty-five percent of all babies with SBS die—one in every four.
- Shaking a baby violently for even two to three seconds can cause bleeding in and around the baby’s brain and can destroy brain cells.
- SBS victims range in age from a few days to five years; the average age is six to eight months.
- An infant may spend two to three hours each day crying, and 20 to 30 percent of infants exceed that amount of time, sometimes substantially.
- Crying becomes particularly problematic during the six-week to four-month age bracket, an age period that coincides with peak incidence of SBS.
- Head trauma is the most frequent cause of permanent damage or death among abused infants and children, and shaking accounts for a significant number of those cases.
Signs and Symptoms
If a child shows any of these symptoms after being shaken, take him to the hospital immediately:
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Blood spots or pooling of blood in the eyes
Simple Techniques to Calm a Crying Baby
- Calm down—crying is normal and can last 15 minutes to several hours. Young infants cry an average of three hours per day. This is how an infant communicates. Place the baby in a safe place such as a playpen or crib. Call a friend or relative for support and advice.
- Check to see if the infant is hungry or needs a diaper change. Discomfort, such as too tight clothing or being too hot or cold can also cause crying.
- T.L.C.—provide tender, loving care. Soothe the infant with gentle motions and a steady, calm voice. Put your hands behind your back if you become angry, it helps to remind yourself not to touch the infant in frustration or anger. Infants will often calm down when they hear the low hum of a clothes dryer or vacuum cleaner. They’re also easily soothed by a car ride, being held by an adult while walking or rocking, or going for a ride in a stroller.
- Try again—When you have calmed down, resume trying to help the baby.
- Never yell at, hit, or shake your baby.
Where to Get Help
Childhelp USA: 800-4-ACHILD
National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-422-4453
National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse: 800-CHILDREN
Parental Stress Hotline: 1-800-632-8188
Shaken Baby Alliance:1-877-6ENDSBS
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