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Articles » NINDS Shaken Baby Syndrome Information Page: NINDS

NINDS Shaken Baby Syndrome Information Page: NINDS

Article title: NINDS Shaken Baby Syndrome Information Page: NINDS

Main condition: Shaken baby syndrome

Conditions: Shaken baby syndrome

What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Shaken baby syndrome is a severe form of head injury that occurs when a baby is shaken forcibly enough to cause the baby's brain to rebound (bounce) against his or her skull. This rebounding may cause bruising, swelling, and bleeding (intracerebral hemorrhage) of the brain, which may lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death. The condition is usually the result of non-accidental trauma or child abuse. In rare instances it may be caused by tossing a baby in the air or jogging with a baby in a backpack. Symptoms may include changes in behavior, irritability, lethargy, loss of consciousness, pale or bluish skin, vomiting, and convulsions. Although there usually are no outward physical signs of trauma, there may be broken, injured, or dislocated bones and injuries to the neck and spine.

Is there any treatment?
Immediate emergency treatment is necessary and usually includes life-sustaining measures such as stopping internal bleeding and relieving increased intracranial pressure.

What is the prognosis?
Generally, the prognosis for children with shaken baby syndrome is poor. Most will be left with considerable disability. Retinal damage may cause loss of vision. If the child survives, he or she may require lifelong medical care for brain damage injuries such as mental retardation or cerebral palsy.

What research is being done?
The NINDS conducts and supports research on trauma-related disorders, including head injuries. Much of this research focuses on increasing scientific understanding of these disorders and finding ways to prevent and treat them.

Selected references

Spaide, R, et. al.
Shaken Baby Syndrome. American Family Physician, 41:4; 1145-1152 (April 1990).

Joynt, R (ed).
Clinical Neurology. vol. 3, Chapter 30, J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, p. 62 (1990).

Frank, Y, et. al.
Neurological Manifestations in Abused Children Who Have Been Shaken. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 27; 312-316 (1985).


National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 31, Rm. 2A32
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
Tel: 301-496-5133 800-370-2943

This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.Provided by:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892


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