12/19/13: EC Dept. of Social Services Raises Awareness on Dangers of Shaking Babies

Modified: January 23, 2015 3:09pm

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Outreach Highlights Need for Education, Strategies for Handling Stress

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer reminded the community of the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome (“SBS”). SBS is a recognized form of child abuse and usually occurs when a parent or other caregiver shakes a baby, or slams or throws a baby against an object. Cases of SBS can be found in all ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses and family compositions. While victims of SBS are usually between 3 and 8 months old, SBS has been reported in newborns and in children up to 4 years old.

“Babies are often shaken by an otherwise affectionate parent or other caregiver out of anger, especially when the baby is crying,” said Commissioner Dankert-Maurer. “Experts recommend to parents and caregivers that if they feel themselves starting to lose control of their emotions around a baby, they should find another responsible adult to watch their child. If that is not possible, they should put the baby on their back in their crib, leave the room for a few minutes, and regain their composure.”

Shaking or throwing a child, or slamming a child against an object, causes uncontrollable head movement. This causes tearing in the brain tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. The child's skull can hit the brain with force, causing brain tissue to bleed and swell. At first, injuries associated with SBS may not even be noticeable, with the only initial symptoms being irritability or vomiting. However, victims of SBS often develop additional symptoms, such as lethargy, breathing difficulties, and seizures. 

Dankert-Maurer continued, “If any parent or caregiver shakes their baby, they should call 911 or take the baby to a hospital. They should not let fear or pride stop them from seeking medical help immediately. They should tell the doctor or nurse the truth so they know to look for symptoms when examining the baby. This may save the baby's life or keep him or her from developing severe mental and physical handicaps.”

It is estimated that 25% of all children diagnosed with SBS die from their injuries. Those who survive may have permanent brain and vision problems, including seizures, Cerebral palsy, and learning or behavior problems.

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Social Services, visit http://www2.erie.gov/social services/

On Shaken Baby Syndrome, visit http://dontshake.org/