|Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), is 100% preventable and is a form of physical child abuse to a baby or young child. Abusive Head Trauma / Shaken Baby Syndrome (AHT/SBS) 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 on Shaken Baby Syndrome, AHT/SBS is the leading cause of Child Abuse Death within the United States. Out of the approximate 1,300 reported cases per year, 80% of survivors have lifelong disabilities, and 25% of the cases will die. 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 or eye causing more injury or even death.
Babies cry. Sometimes they cry a lot. Crying is a baby’s way of communicating and it is normal. Crying in babies peaks around 6 to 8 weeks and gradually decreases by 4 to 5 months of age. A baby won’t die from crying, but they CAN die from being shaken. Non-stop crying is a primary trigger for shaking a baby.
It is not the crying that is the problem. The problem is how adults deal with the crying. AHT/SBS prevention education to new parents on a crying plan will help new parents plan ahead on what they will do and how they will react when they become frustrated with a crying baby. A crying plan can make a life-changing difference for a baby.
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
Nebraska Hospital Association
Nebraska Chapter: American Academy of Pediatrics
Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative
Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska