Numbers, head injuries, abuse… the point on Shaken Baby Syndrome

with dr Martine Balençon, paediatrician, coroner and expert at the Rennes Court of Appeal

Every year it affects several hundred babies in France. Shaken Baby Syndrome can cause serious harm to infants and in some cases even death. How to recognize the signs of this syndrome? We move accompanied by Dr. Martine Balençon, paediatrician, coroner and expert at the Rennes Court of Appeal, assessment of the subject.

Definition and Causes: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)?

Shaken baby syndrome is a phenomenon that has signs and, more importantly, a very specific cause, explains Dr. Martine Balençon: “Shaken Baby Syndrome is part of the head injury family. Unlike other injuries, Shaken Baby Syndrome does not have an accidental cause. It stems from intentional violence and occurs when a person violently shakes a baby.

Head Trauma: What Are the Dangers and Consequences of Shaking Your Baby? What consequences?

According to the AMELI website, every year Several hundred children are victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome. What are the effects of shaking on the infant? The consequences can be very serious, explains Dr. Martine Balençon: “Shaking a baby is an act of extreme violence. In terms of trauma, shaking a child is like being thrown at 80 miles per hour in an overturning car. The consequences can be significant. The child may have various lesions in the skull, as well as severe neurological damage. Intracranial hemorrhage can occur, leading to death from cardiopulmonary arrest. Indeed, the infant’s head is still very fragile and developing, which can damage it very easily compared to an adult. Other sequelae can also occur, such as subdural hematomas in particular. These are ruptures of peripheral veins of the brain. Out of retinal hemorrhages at eye level can also occur.

Fortunately, if death is not systematic, brain damage can have serious consequences for the development of young children, leading to severe psychomotor developmental disorders or even cognitive, language and behavioral disorders. The child affected by shake baby syndrome may also have paralysis or even vision and hearing problems. Later he may be affected by learning difficulties.

In the event that a baby has been shaken, it is important to recognize the signs that should alert in order to avoid aggravation. However, prior to the specific symptoms of the shaken baby, it is important to recognize the elements that suggest the young child is a victim of violence, as Dr. Martine Balençon explains: “You have to know how to recognize the warning signs of violence. A baby who is bruised in unlikely places (e.g. face) even though he doesn’t yet know how to move needs immediate alarm.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Symptoms:

  • Convulsions or abnormal movements of the child’s body (body rigidity may also be observed).
  • Difficulty breathing or stopping breathing.
  • Loss of consciousness or unusual sleepiness.
  • hematomas or wounds

These signs and symptoms should alert you immediately. There is also another set of symptoms that may seem less severe but deserve equal attention:

  • vomiting for no reason.
  • A loss or decrease in the young child’s appetite. A loss of tone can also be observed.
  • Unusual behavior: great irritation or even loss of smile and lack of usual babble. Crying more often can also be observed in young children who have been shaken.
  • Out of eye diseases can also appear. These are characterized by strabismus, abnormal eye movements, or unequally sized pupils.

If these symptoms appear in young children, do not waste any time and contact the emergency doctor immediately (15). If the baby vomits or has cramps, we don’t hesitate to do one safety lateral position before help arrives to prevent suffocation.

Diagnosing Shaken Baby Syndrome: When to Be Concerned?

Once the child is brought to the emergency room, they will undergo a whole series of tests to determine if they have been victims of the shaking trauma and if there are any significant sequelae. Therefore, to make the diagnosis, doctors do blood tests, an MRI, or even a fundus to detect a possible lesion in the brain. If the child is found to be trembling, the nursing staff will quickly investigate Contact the district attorney’s office to start an investigation into possible abuse. In this case, the child can be placed under protection. Parents can also file a complaint if they state that they are not responsible for the shocks the child received.

Of the hundreds of babies who become victims of tremors and the resulting brain damage, in many cases the parents are responsible for this abuse. Often some of them explain that their violent reactions were caused by their extreme irritability after excessive crying of the infant. Of course, baby crying should in no way be a justification for these acts of abuse. In prevention, we can learn to stay calm to prevent tragedy. This is what Dr. Martine Balençon, who provides a first impression: “If you feel overwhelmed by your baby’s crying, it is important to speak to loved ones or a doctor immediately. I also recommend contacting your local Mother and Child Protection (PMI). These teams are doing a great job helping parents.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your baby’s crying, here are some tips to keep calm:

  • Leave the room for a few moments.
  • Breathe in long and deep.
  • Squeeze a soft object.
  • Listen to soft music.
  • Cry.
  • To shower.

The following numbers can also be contacted if you suspect a baby has been shaken or if you are a parent afraid to let go:

  • “Hello, Childhood in Danger”: 119 Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Hello Parents Baby”: 0.800.00.34.56 from Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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