SBS is a form of child abuse that occurs when an adult or older child violently shakes a baby or young child.
It only takes a few seconds of violent shaking to cause permanent damage.
What causes Shaken Baby Syndrome?
SBS is usually caused by a frustrated parent or caregiver who shakes a baby when it will not stop crying, or because of some other personal stress like money or relationship problems.
What are the results of SBS?
Immediate symptoms of SBS include tiredness, not eating, no smiling, talking or laughing, difficulty swallowing, sucking or breathing, vomiting, difficulty staying awake, or the baby is very stiff or like a rag doll.
Shaking can cause brain injury, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, learning and behavior problems, seizures, paralysis, and death.
It is estimated that 1,000-3,000 children in the United States suffer from SBS each year.
One fourth of victims of SBS die, and 80 percent of survivors suffer from permanent damage.
In the United States, the costs of hospitalization and continuing care for SBS victims can total 1.2 to 16 billion dollars each year.
How serious is SBS in New York State?
An average of 33 children under the age of 4 years old are hospitalized each year for SBS.
The average charge for each hospitalization is $65,000.
What can we do to prevent SBS?
It is important to educate parents and caregivers about the dangers of SBS. Anyone caring for a child should know that if a baby is not uncomfortable or sick but will not stop crying, it is okay to put the baby down in a safe place (like a crib) and take a short break to relax.
New parents should know that it is common for babies to cry for up to three hours a day- some cry even more than this.
NYS legislation requires that hospital maternity wards offer to show new parents a video on shaken baby syndrome before they leave the hospital.
If you suspect a baby has been shaken, you should call 911 or take the baby to the closest hospital emergency room.