Shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:
- Extreme irritability
- Difficulty staying awake
- Breathing problems
- Poor eating
- Pale or bluish skin
Other injuries that may not be initially noticeable include bleeding in the brain and eye, damage to the spinal cord and neck and fractures of the ribs, skull and bones. Evidence of prior child abuse also is common.
In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken, but over time he or she may develop health, learning or behavior problems.
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate help if you suspect your child has been injured by violent shaking.
Contact your child's doctor or take your child to the nearest emergency room. Getting medical care right away may save your child's life or prevent serious health problems.
Health care professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities.
Oct. 18, 2014
- Allen KA. The neonatal nurse's role in preventing abusive head trauma. Advances in Neonatal Care. 2014;14:336.
- Reese LS, et al. Evaluation of period of PURPLE crying, an abusive head trauma prevention program. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing. In press. In press. Accessed Sept. 11, 2014.
- NINDS shaken baby syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shakenbaby/shakenbaby.htm. Accessed Sept. 11, 2014.
- Shaken baby syndrome. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Shaken%20Baby%20Syndrome.aspx. Accessed Sept. 11, 2014.
- Never shake your baby. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.org/baby/never-shake-your-baby.aspx. Accessed Sept. 11, 2014.
- Christian C, et al. Child abuse: Epidemiology, mechanisms, and types of abusive head trauma in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2014.