Why Is Shaken Baby Syndrome So Dangerous?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

Please give me information on shaken baby syndrome. Is it a condition that only affects infants? Up to what age? What are the symptoms, causes etc.

Doctor's response

Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) generally describes the injuries to the brain and retina of the eyes as a consequence of violent shaking of an infants body during which they experience a "whip lash" injury to the head. There is no absolute cut off period--the same neurologic injuries could occur to adults if they sustained similar trauma--the occurrence is less rare.

Since the amount and nature of the injury vary, there exists no absolute symptoms and findings--each case is individual. Evaluation requires a complete exam as well as x-ray studies to evaluate the skull and brain. Usually, the rest of the child's skeleton is also examined via X-rays to search for other signs of prior trauma.

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