The title of this post is taken from SBSPrevention.org and is, in our opinion, one of the best summations of the reality that a “quick shake” in the middle of the night to a baby who’s been crying for hours can, and does, completely change the life of the child and the life of the family.
And it only takes one shake, one forceful movement…
…and life is forever changed.
From The Arc: The true incidence is not known for Shaken Baby Syndrome, but estimates range from an annual figure as low as 600 cases per year in the United States to as high as 1400. What is known is that Shaken Baby Syndrome is the most common cause of mortality and accounts for the most long-term disability in infants and young children due to physical abuse (Reece & Kirschner, 1998). One shaken baby in four dies as a result of this abuse (Poissaint & Linn, 1997). 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 (Showers, 1992). Some studies estimate that 15 percent of children’s deaths are due to battering or shaking and an additional 15 percent are possible cases of shaking (Showers, 1997). The victims of shaken baby syndrome range in age from a few days to five years but most often involve children younger than 2 years of age (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001).
According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome infant crying is the number one trigger of Shaken Baby Syndrome. They have created a great article to help caregivers understand infant crying and how to respond appropriately and when to seek help. You can read that article here.
An important reality to understand is that Shaken Baby Syndrome is NOT always a vicious and brutal act, repeated shaking, or a blow to the head. It just takes one shake, one time to inflict massive brain trauma.
The following video demonstrates just how easily damage can be done to a child’s brain:
Some signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome include, though are not limited to, refusal to eat, extreme irritability, bruising around the chest, seizures, lethargy, etc. If you suspect someone has harmed a child, do not hesitate to contact authorities immediately.