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Shaken Baby Syndrome

If you are a parent of a new baby, there may be times when you will become frustrated and maybe even angry when your baby cries. You may have tried everything to comfort him, but nothing seems to help. Sleep is hard to come by and you may find yourself at wit’s end. Shaken Baby Syndrome or SBS is when a baby is “shaken” forcefully. The movement of the baby’s head back and forth can cause bleeding and increased pressure on the brain. A baby’s neck muscles are not strong enough to tolerate this “whiplash” motion, and the brain is too fragile to handle it. SBS is one of the leading forms of child abuse. Many babies die. Many others have irreversible brain damage. Those who survive may be blind, have mental retardation, paralysis, seizure disorders, learning and speech disabilities or neck and back damage.

If you are feeling as if you cannot deal with your baby’s crying and you have met the baby’s basic needs (clean diaper, fed, appropriate clothes, gently rocked, held, etc.) then stop, think and reach out for help if you need it. DO NOT SHAKE YOUR BABY. If you think your baby has been shaken…go to the emergency room.

Here is a list of things to think about if you become frustrated:

• REMEMBER – NEVER THROW OR SHAKE YOUR BABY NO MATTER WHAT.

• Take a breath.

• Close your eyes and count to 10.

• Put the baby down in his crib and leave for a few minutes to gain composure. • Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to take over for a while. • Give yourself a “timeout.”

• Do not pick the baby up until you feel calm. • If you feel he is ill, call your healthcare provider right away or take him to the hospital.

Signs and Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome Include:

• Irregular, difficult or stopped breathing. • Extreme crankiness. • Seizures and vomiting. • Tremors or shakiness. • Difficulty staying awake.

• No reaction to sounds or acts lifeless.

If you or a caregiver has violently shaken your baby because of frustration or anger, the most important step you can take is to seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY. Do not let fear, shame or embarrassment keep you from doing the right thing. Getting the necessary and proper treatment without delay may save your child’s life.

Chapter 8 – Caring for Your Newborn 123

The National Coalition on Shaken Baby Syndrome mail@dontshake.com www.dontshake.com 1-888-273-0071 (toll free)

The Shaken Baby Alliance info@shakenbaby.com www.shakenbaby.com 1-877-6ENDSBS (toll free)

National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

NICHDClearinghouse@mail.nih.gov www.nichd.nih.gov 1-800-370-2943 (toll free)

The ARC info@thearc.org www.thearc.org 1-301-565-3842

Prevent Child Abuse America mailbox@preventchildabuse.org www.preventchildabuse.org 1-312-663-3520

Think First Foundation thinkfirst@thinkfirst.org www.thinkfirst.org 1-800-THINK-56 (toll free)

The number one reason that a baby is "shaken" is for "non-stop" crying.

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