Shaken baby syndrome may result when someone shakes an infant out of frustration, perhaps to get him or her to stop crying, or when the infant is thrown, struck, or slammed against a hard surface. Known among researchers as pediatric abusive head trauma, shaken baby syndrome does no result from the gentle bouncing or other playful activity with caregivers. During an episode of strong shaking, an infant’s brain bounces back and forth inside the skull. Resembling the whiplash that occurs during an automobile accident, the back and forth movement of the brain may cause serious brain injury or even death.
In the April NICHD Research Perspectives, NICHD director Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher talks with researchers about recognizing the forerunners of shaken baby syndrome and other forms of infant abuse, and how episodes of such abuse can be prevented. This month’s guests were
- Dr. Valerie Maholmes, Acting Chief of the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch at NICHD
- Dr. Cindy Christian, an attending physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and director of the hospital’s Safe Place: The Center for Child Protection and Health
- Dr. Mary Clyde Pierce, an attending physician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.