Many mild cases of SBS go undiagnosed, because doctors don't want to infer that a baby was mistreated. Parents found guilty of shaking their baby sometimes slip through the legal system and are out of jail in no time. Let’s take a look at what goes on during SBS, as well as what happens to these innocent babies afterwards.
SBS is exactly what the name implies; when a baby is violently shaken, usually when they are crying, in order to get the baby to stop crying. Most of the time shaking a baby alone will not produce exterior bruises or signs of abuse.
Internally, three main things can and do occur. The first is a sub-dural hematoma, a bruise or bleeding inside the space between the skull and brain. Second, a baby can develop a retinal hemorrhage, which is bleeding along the back wall of the eye. Third, a baby can develop cerebral edema, which is a collection of fluid that swells inside the brain cavity. SBS is technically classified as a traumatic brain injury, but can also appear as a spinal cord injury if the whip lash effect of the shaking causes the brain stem to disconnect.
As far as prognosis goes, one third of SBS patients die immediately, one third live but with severe mental and physical limitations and one third live normal lives with no impairments. Those who live with mental and physical limitations suffer from seizure disorders, learning disabilities, paralyzation and speech and vision problems.
Again this is a very controversial subject which isn't easy to talk about, but it is important that we raise awareness of SBS so it can be prevented in the future. For more information visit dontshake.org.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.