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Shaken Baby Syndrome More Common Than People Think

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RALEIGH — This case of a British nanny accused of killing the child in her care hasbrought to light just how fragile a baby's brain is. It can only takeseconds 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 stopcrying it sends some parents or babysitters to the edge. In order to makethe baby stop, they pick it up and shake it violently, not realizing thatit could cause severe or fatal brain damage.

A newborn baby can be a bundle of joy for a family, but what happens whenthat 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 justdisplay their anger in a manner for a very small manor that wouldn't bereally appropriate."

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

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

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

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

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

"I try to teach parents different ways to respond to the babies," saidDaniel. "Get separate from the babies distress, teach the baby theworld is a good place and there are people available to help you your notin 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 howfrustrated they get.

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