Shaken Baby Syndrome and Treatment

Babies are very sensitive and fragile and should be dealt with topmost care during their first year of life. The bones and the overall structural integrity of the baby’s skeleton haven’t yet been fully formed and if the baby is mishandled, this can cause the so called shaken baby syndrome. This particular syndrome usually starts with a head injury, by physical trauma, fall or intensive shakes. This is in fact a very common cause of death for babies in the US and throughout the world.

There are three main conditions to be recognized within this syndrome – cerebral edema, retinal hemorrhage and subdural hematoma. All of these three symptoms make up for a diagnosis of the regular shaken baby syndrome. Unfortunately, this syndrome is almost always fatal or can cause severe and permanent brain damage, causing disability or mental issues in the future.

In case of a baby mishandling trial, these symptoms can be used as proof that the baby was mishandled, as there are no other ways for the three symptoms to appear other than intensive shaking. This is mostly caused by parent’s frustration when the baby won’t stop crying, or it might be a freak accident of an older sibling mishandling his younger brother or sister.


Treatment of this condition is very delicate and starts with careful monitoring of the blood pressure within the baby’s skull. In many cases, fluid needs to be drained out in order to lower the blood pressure to a safe level. Hematomas may also decrease in size during this.

Generally speaking, treatment effectiveness and longevity highly depends on the severity of the condition. In most cases, the baby will experience significant difficulties in its future growth and development so you need to do everything you can in order to prevent this from happening.

About 35% of babies affected with this syndrome will die, while another 35% will suffer from a serious mental condition. The rest of the bunch will have a milder psychological or motoric disorder which will remain permanent, as brain damage always is.


The core of this condition lies in its mechanism – baby’s skeletal integrity is far from being able to withstand severe shaking, so it’s important that you handle your baby with topmost care at all times, without letting anyone else handling your baby in any way you wouldn’t want to. Fall damage is probably considered to be the highest risk as it can happen to everyone. Learn how to hold your baby the safest way and expect sudden movements performed by the baby which can get him or her out of balance, causing the fall to occur. By following such simple mechanics and instructions, you’ll significantly reduce the chance for your baby to suffer from this very dangerous syndrome.

There is no permanent and effective treatment for this and if your baby does survive the initial injury, it’s all going to be about reducing the long term and permanent consequences and their intensity.

About the author

Rani Vyas

Rani Vyas

I'm a Medical Consultant Doctor with a keen interest in Medical bioinformatics and genuinely intriguing way of presenting boring medical knowledge in an enchanting and eye catching way.

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