Shaken Baby Syndrome and How It Impacts Babies

By Joanne Marszal

Mar 18, 2018 | Feature, Trauma |

Shaken Baby Syndrome and How It Impacts Babies

It’s the middle of the night a young mother is sleeping and suddenly, her baby starts to cry. She puts the baby’s favorite toy closer to her, sings to her and makes silly faces to make her laugh. None of it seems to work and the baby’s crying gets louder. The young mother gets frustrated and can’t handle the crying much longer. She grabs her daughter by the shoulders and shakes her violently.

This abuse is called Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). Babies, newborns from 2-4 months can be greatly affected by SBS. According to americanspcc.org it is estimated that approximately 306 babies die unnecessarily each year in the United States due to SBS, and as many as 1,000 to 3,000 babies suffer severe irreversible brain injury. The term PURPLE is more than just a color on the website the letters are related to crying:

Peek Of Crying –  Your baby may cry more each week, the most in month 2, than less in months 3-5.

Unexpected – Crying can come and go and you don’t know why.

Resists Soothing – Your baby may not stop crying no matter how hard you try.

Pain-Like Face – A crying baby may look like they are in pain even when they’re not.

Long-Lasting – Crying can last as long as 5 hours, a day or even more.

Evening – Your baby may cry more in the afternoon or evening.

If the baby continues to cry, parents can use these soothing tips that helpguide.org offers:

  • Swaddling. Wrap your baby in a blanket so he feels secure.
  • Side or stomach position. Hold your baby so they’re lying on their side or stomach. But always put them on their back when going to sleep.
  • Shushing. Create “white noise” that drowns out other noises: run the vacuum cleaner, hair drier, fan or clothes drier.
  • Swinging. Create a rhythmic motion of any kind. For example, take your baby for a ride in a stroller or car.
  • Sucking. Let the baby suck on something, such as a pacifier

SBS can impact babies in different ways. Webmd.com goes over the symptoms: vomiting, bluish skin, tremors or shakes, breathing issues, and drowsiness. Babies may also become less interested in eating, have trouble sucking, and stop smiling and talking. There are also bruises on the arms or chest in the places the baby has been grabbed. Other physical signs include a larger than usual head or forehead, different-sized pupils, not being able to focus, and favoring one arm or leg over another.

Some symptoms cannot be seen such as fractured ribs or other bones, spinal cord or neck injury, and bleeding in the brain. In mild cases, behavior, health, or learning issues show up later.

No one can truly understand what it’s like to have SBS unless they experience having the condition themselves. Dontshake.org gives readers insight into people’s lives who have SBS. Here are two stories:

Meet Austin by Brian Replogle, Uncle and Adoptive Father: Fifteen years ago, on December 7, 2000, my 2-1/2-year-old nephew Austin was shaken to near death at the hands of his biological mom’s boyfriend. That was a devastating and truly life changing day for Austin and our entire family. The days and weeks to follow were a blur. It was, and still is today, hard to imagine and understand the evil that had struck our family. How could someone hurt an innocent, loving 2-1/2-year-old child?

Prior to Austin being shaken he was a walking, talking, playing two-year-old. He was able to use two hands to play with his trucks and cars; he watched cartoons on Saturday mornings snuggled up in my lap. He was a fixture in our home on weekends, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. He was happy and loved. He was a normal, typically developing toddler.

Following his abuse, he spent two and a half weeks in a coma at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. Doctors had little hope of his survival but wouldn’t let us give up hope as a family. His brain swelled, cutting off oxygen and blood flow to his young and fragile brain. They placed a cerebral fluid drain and pressure monitor to relieve the pressure that was building. They did CAT Scans regularly to monitor the damage. By the grace of God, he began to show improvement, he was taken off life support just before Christmas 2000 as he regained consciousness.

Meet Kyra: Kyra was born on June 5, 2012. She was a healthy baby who was adored by her 2-year-old big sister, Lexi.  However, a few weeks after her mom returned to work, her dad brought 4-month-old Kyra to the emergency room where her mom worked because she was having seizures. She was airlifted to St Mary’s in Rochester and was diagnosed with non-accidental head trauma also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) or Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). Her dad was arrested after being interviewed by police and admitting that he had become frustrated with her crying and had shaken her. Kyra had brain surgery 4 days later and was released from the hospital after 8 days.

Since her release from the hospital, Kyra has made a remarkable recovery. She is developing on track, although she still has occasional seizures and processing issues. She is monitored by neurology and Neuro Ophthalmology.

Taking care of babies is never an easy job. It’s important to stay calm not letting stress take over. Simple tasks such as going for a walk, breathing deeply and mediating can help control it. Being parents are rewarding roles seeing babies grow up to become independent and respectable adults.

 

Joanne Marszal

Joanne Marszal

Author

I live in West Palm Beach Florida and I have a Multimedia Journalism degree from Florida Atlantic University. Writing is my passion. I love helping people with information they need to know.

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