Overview on shaken baby syndrome

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Shaken baby syndrome is a serious form of brain injury brought about by forceful and violent shaking of an infant. Remember that this is a form of child abuse that results to significant brain damage. It can occur even from 5 seconds of shaking.

Shaking of the baby can cause the brain to repeatedly strike the interior of the skull. The impact can result to bruising within the brain, bleeding and swelling. Other injuries that might occur include fractured bones as well as damage to the spine, eyes and neck.

Shaken baby syndrome is prevalent among children below 2 years of age, but can affect children up to 5 years old. Most cases occur among children 6-8 weeks old which is the phase where they tend to cry the most.

Call for emergency assistance right away if a baby is suspected to be injured. This is a dangerous condition that necessitates prompt medical attention.

What are the signs?

Shaking of the baby can cause the brain to repeatedly strike the interior of the skull. The impact can result to bruising within the brain, bleeding and swelling.
  • Body tremors
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Poor eating
  • Skin discoloration
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Paralysis

Call for emergency assistance or bring the child to the nearest healthcare facility if the signs of shaken baby syndrome are present.

What is the cause?

Shaken baby syndrome occurs if a baby or toddler was shaken violently. People might shake the child out of anger or frustration, often because the child will not cease to cry. Although shaking will eventually cause the child to stop crying, it is due to the shaking that the brain is damaged.

Remember that infants have weak neck muscles and could not properly support their head. If the child is violently shaken, the head moves out uncontrollably. The violent motion repeatedly drives the brain against the interior of the skull, resulting to swelling, bruising and bleeding.


Call for emergency assistance if a child is suspected with shaken baby syndrome. Take note that some babies cease to breath after shaking. Once this occurs, CPR can help the child breathe while waiting for the medical team to arrive.

In some instances, the child might vomit after a shaking. Choking can be prevented by carefully rolling the child onto their side. Make sure that the entire body is rolled at the same time.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on shaken baby syndrome is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the indications by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.

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