Local News

Shaken Baby Syndrome More Common Than People Think

Posted November 11, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— This case of a British nanny accused of killing the child in her care has brought to light just how fragile a baby's brain is. It can only take seconds to injure or even kill a baby.

Doctors say shaking a baby to death is a lot more common than people think, and it could happen to anybody. If a baby is crying and will not stop crying it sends some parents or babysitters to the edge. In order to make the baby stop, they pick it up and shake it violently, not realizing that it could cause severe or fatal brain damage.

A newborn baby can be a bundle of joy for a family, but what happens when that bundle of joy won't stop crying? Parents often become frustrated, some even violent.

It's when people get tired, and lose control," said Dr. Mike Cinoman, pediatrics director. "They are kind of at their wits end, and they just display their anger in a manner for a very small manor that wouldn't be really appropriate."

It's called Shaken Baby Syndrome. That's when accidental or intentional shaking of a baby damages its brain.

"That brain injury can be relatively mild or very severe and result in the death of some children," said Cinoman.

Family psychologist Sheryll Daniel said when parents don't know what to do, it's time for a time out.

"If your worried that your going to do something that your going to regret or could be dangerous put the baby in his or her crib and give yourself a break," said Daniel.

Daniel said the person should remain calm and find a family member or friend to talk to. Family psychologists can also help in dealing with the frustrations of being a parent.

"I try to teach parents different ways to respond to the babies," said Daniel. "Get separate from the babies distress, teach the baby the world is a good place and there are people available to help you your not in this alone."

Cinoman said shaken baby syndrome can not be caused by playing with a child. He says another way to prevent shaken baby syndrome is through educating parents and urging them to not shake their babies no matter how frustrated they get.