Silenced Angels: The Medical, Legal, and Social Aspects of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Silenced Angels: The Medical, Legal, and Social Aspects of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Silenced Angels: The Medical, Legal, and Social Aspects of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Silenced Angels: The Medical, Legal, and Social Aspects of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Synopsis

"Silenced Angels: The Medical, Legal, and Social Aspects of Shaken Baby Syndrome delves into realms of child abuse that have never been explored before in such detail. The book examines how the physical assault of violent shaking on a young body can lead to a lifetime of despair or even death. Every important detail of this tragic form of child abuse is analyzed, providing the reader a more definitive understanding of the condition known as SBS. This is the first book written exclusively about SBS, which is 100 percent preventable. SBS cases can be frequently misdiagnosed and are more frequently under-investigated and poorly prosecuted, leading to a sense of injustice among families and child abuse prevention advocates." "The author breaks through the barriers of miscomprehension, misdiagnosis, and misrepresentation that typically lead to further tragedy and injustice in SBS-related cases. Advocates for child abuse prevention will gain greater information about SBS to further their cause of establishing hospital and community-based prevention and education programs. Parents and family members of SBS victims will find this book indispensable when seeking medical and legal assistance with their cases." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)—most people have now heard about it, but what is it exactly? Might a child be bounced on a knee and get brain damage? Some have worried that jogging with a child in a backpack might cause SBS. Or tossing him into the air. What about a bumpy cross-country ride in a sport-utility vehicle? Indeed, might any of us have somehow shaken our babies just a little too roughly at some time?

Good news! The word “shaken” in the syndrome does not mean “jiggled.” In fact, there is no adequate word in the English language that signifies the violent and repetitive shaking that causes brain injury and bleeding within the head and in the retinas of infants. Well-meaning awareness programs have sometimes made erroneous claims that mild jiggling might cause such injuries. Some parents have become so concerned on hearing these claims that they have shown up at physician’s offices and emergency rooms asking for brain imaging of their infants, because they worried they might have unknowingly caused damage through some play activity. When thinking about awareness issues, the ancient medical admonishment should be considered: “First do no wrong.”

Severity and timing are the major medical and legal issues that confront us when a child is diagnosed with SBS. The force required to cause the syndrome is severe. Drawing a rough analogy to falls, studies have shown that a child falling out of a third-story window has about a 1 percent risk of death. In contrast, SBS has a 25 percent risk of death. Clearly, the overall sense of violence is much worse with Shaken Baby Syndrome. The American Academy of Pediatrics has pointed out that an observer witnessing the act that results in SBS would believe that the child was going to be seriously injured or killed. SBS is no accident.

Timing is the other important issue. In the worst cases of SBS, resulting in death, the child would probably have lived only one hour, or at most two, before he or she would be dead. However, an even stronger tool is available that uses clinical symptoms to decide the timing. The head injuries of SBS result in imme-

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