Shaken baby syndrome refers to a serious damage to the brain that comes about because of forceful shaking of a newborn, thereby destroying the child's brain cells by preventing it from getting oxygen. This form of child abuse may result in unending brain harm or even death.
Shaken baby syndrome is also known as shaken impact syndrome, whiplash shake syndrome or abusive head trauma. This is, however, a preventable condition as parents ought to educate caregivers on the dangers of whiplash shake syndrome.
Shaken baby syndrome as a form of infant abuse manifests itself through various noticeable symptoms such as trouble staying awake, the baby finding it difficult during breathing, poor eating, severe irritability, tremors, regular seizures, vomiting, paralysis and even coma. However, injuries that cannot be seen include damage to the spinal cord and neck, bleeding in the eye and brain, fractures to the rib, skull and bones. At times, and mostly in mild cases, a baby may look normal after being shaken but he or she may develop learning problems, behavior and health complications over time.
Forceful shaking of an infant causes the fragile brain to move back and forth inside the skull leading to bruising, hemorrhage and inflammation of the baby. This occurs because babies have feeble neck muscles evidenced by their inability to support their head. Shaken baby syndrome is commonly caused when a parent or a caregiver ruthlessly shakes a toddler as a result of rage perhaps due to the child's reluctance to stop crying. However, abusive head trauma does not come about as a result of minor falls or rough play.
Both parents and caregivers are likely to inflicting shaken baby syndrome to toddlers because of factors such as depression, nervous tension, marital violence, single parenthood, unstable family situations, excessive alcohol intake or abuse of other substances, a history of abuse as a young person and impractical prospect of babies. Notably though, men stand a higher chance of inflicting shaken baby syndrome as compared to women.
Irreversible brain injury may result from a simple shaking of a toddler. Besides, almost half of babies affected by this condition normally succumb to the syndrome. Survivors may nonetheless require constant medical care to prevent eventual complications such as psychological retardation, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, and loss of hearing, blindness whether partial or complete and learning difficulties.
A child who has been shaken and has thus, contracted this disorder requires emergency treatment which may include breathing support and surgical procedure. These life-sustaining actions taken by qualified general practitioners are meant to stop the blood loss in the brain of the baby and save life since shaken baby syndrome in babies may lead to their death.
If a child is under the care of other people other than the real parent for instance, a sibling, grandparent or a caregiver, one ought to make sure that they are made aware of the dangers of whiplash shake syndrome and hold the toddler with extreme care at all time. In addition, when a crying baby cannot be calmed, one should treat the child gently and try to find something to get his or her tears to end. This is because it only takes a few seconds of shaking for an infant's brain to be permanently and irreversibly damaged. A general practitioner may assist one in finding solutions to his or her emotional problems.
Therefore, shaken baby syndrome being a serious brain damage resulting from forceful shaking of babies, may lead to death of infants and thus should be prevented by ensuring good care of toddlers as their neck muscles are weak. Shaking may lead to irreversible complications.