Identifying Shaken Baby Syndrome

Signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome may vary from mild to severe. The onset of symptoms is immediate; however, in many cases there is no external sign of injury.

Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome that you may see:

  • lack of energy, sluggish

  • extreme irritability, annoyed, impatient

  • inability to suck or swallow

  • decreased appetite, not feeding like usual

  • vomiting, more than just spitting up after eating

  • difficulty breathing or short shallow breaths

  • rigidity or posturing, including abnormal bending of the arms, clenched fists, extended legs, severe arching of the back, or head thrown backwards

  • inability of eyes to focus or unequal size of pupils

  • seizures, may lose consciousness and experience convulsions

  • coma, deep and prolonged unconsciousness

Injuries your pediatrician may find:

  • intracranial bleeding, bleeding within the skull

  • cerebral edema, excess accumulation of water in brain

  • retinal hemorrhages, bleeding of blood vessels in the retina or membrane in the back of the eye

  • rib fractures, break or fracture in one or more of the bones making up the rib cage

  • fractures of long bones, break or fracture in the femur, tibia, or other long bones

  • skull fractures, break or fracture in the skull

Long-term effects may include:

  • severe brain injury or damage

  • learning disabilities and/or behavior disorders

  • impaired motor or cognitive skills

  • visual impairment or any kind of vision loss

  • paralysis or loss of muscle function for one or more muscle groups

  • seizure disorder, where the brain’s activity is periodically disturbed and it results in some degree of temporary brain dysfunction

  • death