Signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 20, 2011

Signs of Shaken Baby SyndromeShaken baby syndrome is a type of brain injury that occurs when the baby is violently shaken. Any kind of violent shaking can results in severe brain injury, spinal-cord injuries or bleeding in the eyes.

Shaken body syndrome mostly develops in infant up to one year. Babies aged between two to four months are at greatest risk of developing shaken baby syndrome. Children after two years of age are at least risk of developing this syndrome. However, if shaken extremely violently then child aging between four and six years can also develop this problem. Shaken baby syndrome is a kind of child abuse with the below mentioned common indicative signs:


Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome

  • Subdural Haematoma.
  • Retinal hemorrhage.
  • Brain swelling.
  • Problem in sucking or swallowing.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diminished appetite.
  • Different size of pupil (in eyes).
  • Unable to move head in sideways.
  • Problem in breathing.
  • Convulsions.
  • Decreased alertness.
  • Sudden changes in behaviour such as extreme irritability.
  • Lethargy and sleepiness.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Bluish skin or pale skin.


Shaken baby syndrome can lead to serious consequences if not diagnose and treated at time. It can lead to problems such as:


  • Learning disability.
  • Rib Fracture.
  • Blindness.
  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Chronic seizure.

On an average, one out of four children with shaken baby syndrome die. In some of the cases there are no evident physical signs of shaken body syndrome. This makes it difficult to diagnose this syndrome.


Diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome

In most of the cases shaken baby syndrome is misdiagnosed or not-diagnosed. This is because parents or caregiver are either unaware of mechanism of injury or lie about their violent act on child. To diagnose shaken baby syndrome your physician will do:


  • Diagnostic Tests: On occurrence of any indicative symptoms your doctor can order (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) MRI or Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of baby’s head.
  • Physical examination: Check-up by experienced ophthalmologist is very important for correct diagnosis of the disease. This is because ocular bleeding is one of its unique signs.
  • Infant is closely monitored for all the possible damages.    
  • X-ray is performed to find out fracture in ribs.

Word of Caution

  • Never shake your baby during play or anger.
  • If you are not able to handle your anger then attend parenting classes or take counselor’s help.
  • Baby sitters, care givers and even new parents must be informed about consequences of shaking infants.


Read more articles on Shaken Baby Syndrome Signs and Symptoms



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