Shaken baby syndrome: symptoms, causes and treatment

A large part of the population wants to have children. Being a parent is a dream for many, for whom the idea of ​​raising, educating, giving affection and ultimately helping a fragile and vulnerable being to grow up and see the world is exciting and motivating. . Most people want to protect children.

However, some parents abuse their children by performing actions like violently shaking them when they cry continuously in order to silence them. This type of abuse can lead to serious brain damage in an organism as fragile as a baby. This is what happens with shaken baby syndrome.

    Shaken baby syndrome

    Shaken Baby Syndrome is called the set of symptoms presented by babies who have been shaken (Usually caused by the action of an adult) without external trauma, these symptoms being the result of an intracranial injury resulting from a violent shaking.

    The shaking causes brain damage which can become very serious he is able to cause the death of the child (In fact, it is one of the most common causes of infant mortality), or sequelae of considerable severity. This syndrome tends to appear in babies under the age of three.

    even if lesions may be variableIt is generally considered that there are three which occur in most cases of this syndrome and which allow its diagnosis: retinal hemorrhage, encephalopathy or brain damage (such as diffuse axonal damage) and hematoma. subdural. Hydrocephalus is also common.

    The symptoms of these injuries can be very different depending on the damaged areas, however usually works with diffuse axonal damage. It is common for the baby to start having seizures, lethargy, hypotonia or loss of muscle tone, anorexia, vomiting, or breathing problems. In addition, they can produce serious long-term sequelae.

    Sequelae and symptoms

    In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, damage to the brain usually causes serious and permanent damage.

    Among these suites are the development of an intellectual disability of varying severity. It is not uncommon for cerebral palsy to develop. Symptoms similar to those of autism, developmental delays and speech impairment can also sometimes be observed.

    too much infections can occur and cause inflammation of the brain and worsen the child’s condition. It is also not uncommon for sensory impairments such as blindness or acquired deafness to appear.

      How is it going?

      The most common reason for shocked baby syndrome to appear, the cause of shock, is usually the baby’s crying that one or more adults try to stop violently. Usually this is unplanned abuse. In others, it is done intentionally and intentionally.

      However, it has sometimes also been observed in some cases where an attempt is made to resuscitate a baby who has stopped breathing, in car accidents (For example, whiplash even if the child is wearing a belt) and even in some disorders similar symptoms may appear without the need for shaking (although the latter are detectable). Therefore, it should not be assumed that they are necessarily the product of ill-treatment.

      The shocks make that the brain mass moves violently and hits the walls of the skullIn addition to damaging the spinal nerves by not having the child’s neck strong enough to withstand acceleration.

      It is also considered that problems and injuries also occur due to the presence of hypoxia or a decrease in oxygen reaching regions of the brain during shock due to respiratory disturbances caused during shock and damage. of the trunk.

      Treatment of this syndrome

      Neuronal death caused by shaken baby syndrome does not present with curative treatment. Over time, some of the symptoms may go away and in some cases recovery can be achieved, but the overall prognosis is not very positive. However, early intervention can both save the child’s life and reduce the possible consequences.

      It is important to drain extravasated blood in case of internal bleeding, as well as excess cerebrospinal fluid in case of hydrocephalus. too much it is essential to decrease intracranial pressure. This can lead to the flooding or compression of less tissue.

      In addition, occupational therapy and other strategies can be helpful so that affected children can regain function, be stimulated, or learn differently. strategies that can improve their independence and quality of life.

        Prevention mechanisms

        One of the main methods of stopping the onset of this syndrome is to implement preventive measures. In many cases, parents shake the baby because they don’t know what is making them cry and how to stop it.

        Prevention needs to be done through social awareness and information about the effects (although this may seem surprising, many people are unaware of the damage that can shock a baby).

        Try to educate through different programs like the Purple Crying period proposed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome may lead caregivers to be able to establish different strategies like rocking them, walking them or putting them on a white tone to reassure them at the same time. that we learn to manage our own adult stress.

        Obviously, in the event that the abuse was willful for the purpose of causing harm (such as proceeds of vicarious violence), legal measures such as the removal of the individual from the baby should be imposed. .

        Bibliographical references:

        • Nieto, T .; Fernández, S. (2008). Shaken baby syndrome: is a differential diagnosis possible ?. Legal and forensic clinical psychopathology, 8; 107-127. Complutense University of Madrid.
        • Rufo, M. (2006). Shaken Child Syndrome. Notebooks of legal medicine, 43-44. Malaga.

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