Defining Shaken Baby Syndrome, Causes, and Symptoms
In medical terms, Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) is also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome. AHT may be defined as the injury or trauma caused by direct blows to the head of a baby. This occurs mainly in cases of child abuse when the kid is dropped on his or her head, thrown or shaken violently. AHT is one of the leading causes of death in child abuse cases. The fragile anatomy of a kid puts him at particular risk. The fatal cases occur in babies who are less than a year old, although kids who are five years old have been known to suffer from Shaken Baby Syndrome also.
How Shaken Baby Syndrome Occurs
Violent shaking is the main cause of these types of injuries. Most often the perpetrator is the parent or caretaker of the child. AHT also occurs when the head is struck against hard surfaces. The adult shakes a baby out of frustration or anger when he or she does not stop crying. The shaking will work in most cases, though the child stops crying because of injury to the brain more often than any other reason. When someone shakes the baby with a sudden impulsive force, the brain bumps against the skull. This leads to bruising, swelling and pressure in and around the brain area. This causes various threatening injuries and sometimes even death of the baby. When the baby is shaken, the brain of the baby gets damaged, and the supply of oxygen is cut off from the brain. This may cause impairments of neurons and even death. Shaken baby syndrome is one of the most abusive forms of head trauma caused to the infants. Boys are more susceptible to this kind of abuse and conversely, around 70% of perpetrators are male. Statistically, younger people cause more AHT as people who are under substance influences.
Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome
Shaken baby syndrome does not occur from minor shaking, minor shaking or tossing the baby in the air. It is also unlikely that shaken baby syndrome may occur from accidents such as falling from chairs or downstairs or accidentally being dropped from a care giver’s arm. Shortfalls cause other types of head injuries which are often minor. Then what causes Shaken Baby Syndrome? Some of the symptoms are.
- In many cases, the angry parent or the caregiver shakes the baby violently in order to make him stop cry or give him punishment. Most of the shaking takes place when the child cries continuously. The caregiver or the parents do not intend to harm the baby. Still, it is a form of child abuse.
- Injuries are more likely to happen when the child is shaken and the child’s head hit something. Even hitting a soft object like pillow or mattress is enough to injure the newborn or infants. The violent shaking of a baby often causes a rupture in the brain tissue or nerve cell inside the brain.
- A baby’s neck muscles are not fully formed, their ligaments are weak as well and brains are softer, thus shaking and an ultimate impact on the head causes the brain to move inside the skull. Also, an impact on the brain will cause swelling, which will put pressure on it causing bruises and bleeding. In most cases, a child arriving in the hospital with these types of injuries will be unconscious, suffering seizures, or in shock. The fatalities occur when such severe symptoms are not apparent and the child does not get medical attention until it’s too late. The result is ultimately a type of whiplash which occurs in auto accidents. Some symptoms that the child may develop in case of AHT are given below.
- Decreased appetite
- Inability to focus
- Breathing difficulties
- Extreme fussiness or irritability
- Difficulty staying awake
- Pale or bluish skin
While shaken baby syndrome, you may not see any injury in the outer body of the child. Sometimes the face of the baby gets bruised which is very rare.
- The injuries might not be seen instantly. This child will have a bleeding from brains and eyes, damage to the spinal cord and fractures of the ribs, skulls and other legs and bones.
- Many children with shaken baby syndrome show signs and symptoms of prior child abuse. In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome a child might appear normal after being shaken, but after a time the child might develop behavioural and health problems.
- It would be better if you observe these things in the child as a parent. Some of the most important symptoms which you will notice are, lack of appetite, rigidity in his movements, he will have a fixed glassy eyes and no normal responses, and sometimes he will have unexplained nausea and vomiting.
- A child suffering from SDS will also get irritated very quickly and cries constantly. Try to give immediate attention as soon as the trauma occurs. Doing this will help you further delay in the diagnosis and treatment.
As a parent, it is your duty to ensure that your baby stays protected from SBS. Here are some measures you can do to protect your little one:
- If your baby constantly cries for no reason, you may get annoyed. Understand what your baby will be comforted with.
- You may have lost your patience in holding your crying baby. It’s better to leave him in the crib and walk out of the room. Return only after you calm down.
- You need to practice deep breathing. Parenting can be tough, but you should risk your baby’s life due to your inner frustration. Calm down before you attain your child.
- If you are facing other difficulties in life such as unemployment or financial troubles, it is time to tune your mind. Always make conscious efforts to bond with your baby in such situations.
- Remember that your baby is a great diversion from your problems and not the reason.
- If you are unable to deal with the stress of parenting there is no shame in accepting the fact. Hire a nanny who will do the job for you.
- Protect your infant from abusive family members.
Remember that it is a very crucial thing to act on the crisis as early as possible. Once the trauma happens you don’t have time to blame you or the other person who is responsible for the act. You can talk to your family doctor immediately to understand more about shaken baby syndrome. Keeping track of your emotional impulses while raising your baby is more important than anything else. If you opt for a caretaker then make sure you choose the trustworthy and trained personnel.
To conclude, Shaken Baby Syndrome is fully preventable. Increasing the awareness about the dangers of shaking a baby can be the starting point. Parents and caregivers also need to find ways to de-stress when dealing with crying children.
To raise the awareness of shaken baby syndrome, many parents are taught and caregivers are asked to join a nationwide educational program on raising babies. The first and foremost thing parents should know that it is not at all safe to shake a baby no matter the situation is and if they feel like they are at the point of doing it, then it will be better to leave the baby in the crib and walk out of the room. Do not return until you calm down. Many of them are also given a purple colored hat and are explained its meaning. The meaning of purple refers to.
- P– Peak of crying: newborn babies generally reach their peak of crying when they are around. And their crying peak tappers off when they are between three and five months.
- U– unexpected: babies can be happy for a long time and cry unexpectedly for the entire time. It is easier to lose control when the crying is unexpected.
- R– Resist soothing: even the soothing which worked previously won’t work and the baby will still go on crying.
- P-pain-like face: the baby will appear to be in pain even if they are not.
- L-long lasting: the baby may cry for a significant hour of time may be the whole day.
- E-evening: The babies are more inclined to cry during the afternoon and evenings.
Raising such awareness you can save many lives of infants who have not yet seen the world properly. It is an important step that everyone needs to be reminded about to ensure the safety of the infants.