5 ways to avoid Shaken Baby Syndrome

Learn shocking facts about Shaken Baby Syndrome, plus, a children’s emergency expert has advice on preventive steps to take.

Hazel Tan was just 4 months old when her parents rushed her to the Accidents and Emergency unit in a hospital. When she was diagnosed with a brain injury and burst blood vessels in the eye, the doctors suspected that she was a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). Although Hazel was then under a nanny’s care, the police did not take any legal action as they could not find any evidence that she had been ill-treated.

Dr Kao Pao Tang, head & consultant (Children's Emergency) at the National University Hospital, explains that SBS is a serious injury that often proves fatal. “Those who survive it often develop cerebral palsy with varying degrees of disabilities — from quadriplegic to blindness — which carries with it [a myriad of health issues].”

Cerebral palsy sufferers have to deal with a wide range of health issues including frequent respiratory infections, trouble swallowing, limb contractures, urinary tract infections and bedsores if they are bedridden. The muscles of their limbs may also contracted permanently.

“Given enough strength, even a 5-year-old can be shaken to [his] demise.”

Even worse, Dr Kao cautions that babies with SBS seldom show any visible signs of the condition. He notes, however, that the symptoms and signs of SBS are similar to that of meningitis, except that there’s no fever.

Seek emergency help if your infant displays any of the following symptoms:
* Is highly irritable or sleepy and lethargic.
* Has a bulging fontanelle/s — the soft spot where the bones of bubba’s skull have yet to fuse — from the increased pressure in the skull.
* Has trouble breathing
* Has poor appetite.
* Has body tremors and seizures.
* Is vomiting and nauseated.
* The skin appears bluish or pale.
* Bleeding in one or both eyes. 

Don’t be fooled by the name of the condition, either — older kids are equally at risk of dying from SBS. Dr Kao cautions, “Given enough strength, even a 5-year-old can be shaken to [his] demise.” 

He explains that the medical world now avoids using the term Shaken Baby Syndrome to reflect the life-threatening nature of the condition. The terms abusive head trauma or non-accidental head injury are used instead. He adds, “The change in terminology reflects that the actions leading to non-accidental head injury is not a random or accidental event. [But rather] the result of deliberate violent shaking of an infant.”

Tips on how to guard your kewpie against abusive head trauma, next…!