Abusive Head Trauma & Infant/Family Safety

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What you need to know

​​​​Safety Topics

1. Infant/Family Safety Topics:

Infant/Family Safety Topics: A variety of resources are listed here to help you learn more about infant and family safety. The list includes: 911, car seats, poison control, family safety check and adult and child abuse.

 

2. Abusive Head Trauma/​Shaken Baby Syndrome:

NEVER SHAKE A BABY!

Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a form of physical child abuse to a baby or young child. AHT is 100 percent preventable. AHT can be caused by shaking alone or from an injury that results in a whiplash motion that may cause bleeding inside the brain or eyes. Even a few seconds of violent shaking can cause serious injuries.

Babies are more susceptible to injury because:

  • Their heads are bigger and heavier compared to the rest of their body;
  • They have weak neck muscles;
  • Their brains are delicate and still developing;
  • The baby is much smaller and weaker than the person shaking them

According to the National Center, AHT is the leading cause of Child Abuse Death within the United States. Out of the nearly 1,300 reported cases per year, 25 percent end in death. Eighty percent of the survivors will have lifelong disabilities. Babies (newborns to four months) are at greatest risk of injury from shaking because inconsolable crying is a primary trigger for shaking a baby.

As the baby is shaken, the brain moves within the skull, hurting or destroying brain tissue. Shaking also can tear blood vessels around the brain. These tears increase the pressure inside the head, causing more injury to the brain. Any of these injuries can lead to severe disability or death. Seek medical attention right away if you suspect any head injury.

123 Don't Shake Me Brochure: EnglishSpanish

Signs and Symptoms of AHT

​​Common Signs and Symptoms
  • Lethargy/decreased muscle tone, limp arms and legs, unable to lift head
  • Extreme irritability
  • Decreased appetite, poor feeding or vomiting for no apparent reason
  • Grab-type bruises on arms or chest
  • No smiling or vocalization
  • Poor sucking or swallowing
  • Rigidity or posturing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Larger head or forehead or soft-spot on head appears to be bulging
  • Unable to focus eyes or track movement or unequal size of pupils
  • Heart may stop
  • Death
Long Term Consequences
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Visual disabilities or blindness
  • Hearing impairment
  • Speech disabilities
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Seizures
  • Behavior Disorders
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Death

3. Soothing Infant Crying:

Babies cry. Crying is a baby's way of communicating and is a part of the normal developmental behavior of infants. Sometimes babies just cry, and there is nothing you can do about it. It's not your fault. Inconsolable crying is a primary trigger for shaking a baby.

Don't be caught off guard. Shaking, throwing, hitting, or hurting a baby is NEVER an appropriate response. Learn more on how to comfort your crying baby and the resources available if you need help.  

State Statute

Download Sudden Infant Death and Shaken Baby Syndrome Information Acknowledgement Form here:


In 2006, the Nebraska Legislature passed a law requiring hospitals, birthing centers and other medical facilities to present a video and reading materials to new parents, discussing the dangers of shaking a baby and sudden infant death syndrome. View the full State Statute here: Nebraska Revised Statute 71-2103, information for parents of newborn child and requirements.

Brochures and video are available in English and Spanish.

The Law requires that video and reading materials be approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. Contact DHHS at Jackie.moline@nebraska.gov for review any material not provided by Department of Health and Human Services and for a list of approved materials. 

Resources

- The National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) or http://www.childhelp.org/;

- National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome;

- The Period of Purple Crying;

- Forever Shaken: A 30-minute documentary produced by the parents of a child who was the victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome, looking at the long-term impact of children's lives after being shaken.

- Help guide​: When your baby won't stop crying.  
 

References used in the development of this page:

  1. Injury Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury; Heads Up: Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Online] July 03, 2014.
  2. National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.  dontshake.org. [Online] July 3, 2014
  3. Baby Care 101 - Soothing your Cryi​ng Baby. March of Dimes. [Online] [Cited: 09 03, 2014.]
  4. Shaken Baby Syndrome. Childhelp.org. [Online] [Cited: October 2, 2014.]