Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Prevalent Danger
What’s Safe, What’s Not
By no means does this mean parents need to refrain from playing with their baby. “There’s no proof that bouncing a baby gently on your knee or other normal play activities would cause any harm,” says a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Injury and Disability Prevention. But he warns: “You can imagine scenarios that might produce the damage without it being deliberately inflicted. It would have to involve vigorous unsupported movement of the head.” So this effectively rules out rough play, at least until your baby is crawling. It also means taking care to support a newborn’s head if you’re walking with them in your arms.
Tossing a baby up into the air—a favorite pastime of proud fathers—should be avoided. “Children should not be tossed up into the air before they have reached the age where they have good head control,” says Dr. Flaherty. “At a very young age their neck muscles are still very weak and their brains immature and more susceptible to permanent damage.”
The prognosis for recovery from SBS is poor. Most children that experience SBS will suffer considerable disabilities. If the child survives, he or she may require lifelong medical care. Fewer than ten to fifteen percent of children who experience SBS are believed to recover completely.
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