Shaken baby syndrome is a medical term for the injuries caused by violently shaking a baby. Shaking a baby’s head can damage the brain and cause a lack of oxygen and even cause death. Shaking a baby is child abuse.
Usually babies are shaken by a parent or a caregiver, but it can be done by any adult. People caring for the baby may get angry or frustrated, often because the child is crying.
Gently bouncing a baby in play does not cause shaken baby syndrome.
A baby who has been shaken may:
Shaken baby syndrome may cause only mild symptoms at first, but shaken babies can have severe mental and physical problems for the rest of their lives. Even if a baby looks normal right after the shaking, over time the baby may have problems such as:
If you think your baby has been shaken, get emergency care right away. Tell healthcare providers that you think your baby has been shaken. It may save your baby's life.
A healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your child may have tests such as:
A child with shaken baby syndrome needs to be treated in a hospital. The goal is to stop any further brain damage. Treatment depends on your child's injuries, and may include:
Several specialists may care for your baby. Even with prompt treatment, your child may need lifelong medical care.