Shaken Baby Syndrome

All parents should be informed of the serious problem of shaken baby syndrome. A baby should never be shaken for any reason. The most common reason for shaking a baby is inconsolable crying (National Exchange Club Foundation, 2005). Discussing normal crying behavior and giving some suggestions for how to calm the baby and how parents can calm themselves is an important part of anticipatory guidance. A parental time-out is one suggestion for parents who find themselves angry, frustrated, or having thoughts about hurting their baby. After placing the infant in a safe place such as a crib or bassinet, parents can leave the room for a few minutes, sit down, close their eyes, and count to 20. After they have calmed themselves, they can once again try to calm their baby using one of many techniques (e.g., feeding, diaper change, rocking, stroller or car ride, soft music).

The symptoms of shaken baby syndrome are caused by the trauma to the brain during the forceful back-and-forth movement of the skull. Vomiting, irritability, and poor feeding can be signs of mild to moderate brain damage, and more severe injury can manifest with seizures, a bulging fontanelle (secondary to significant intracranial hemorrhage), or other CNS deficits (National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, 2005).

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