Children & Adolescents Clinic

 Home Parent's Guide

Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Shaken Baby Syndrome

What is shaken baby syndrome?

Shaken baby syndrome is a medical term for the injuries caused by violently shaking an infant. Shaking can lead to permanent brain damage and even death. Shaken baby syndrome does not result from gently bouncing an infant in play.

Sometimes babies are shaken by babysitters, but most often it is done by an adult living in the baby's home. Caretakers usually do not intend to hurt the baby. Shaking generally happens when an adult is angry and loses control.

What are the symptoms of shaken baby syndrome?

  • sleepiness
  • fussiness
  • poor eating
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • apnea (not breathing)
  • unconsciousness.

How can I prevent shaken baby syndrome?

  • If you find yourself becoming annoyed or angry with your baby, put your baby in the crib and leave the room. Take a time-out. Call someone for support.
  • Do not hold your baby during an argument or fight.
  • Do not leave your baby with someone who is angry, drinking or using drugs, or who seems at all violent.
  • If possible, use childcare providers who are licensed.
  • Never shake a baby.

Written by Lawrence R. Ricci, M.D. and Hannah Pressler, M.H.S., P.N.P.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems