Is Shaken Baby Syndrome Real?


Shaken baby syndrome is the tragic result of a specific kind of child abuse that has happened all too often over the past few decades. And now some doctors are calling it into question.

Shaken baby syndrome occurs when a baby is shaken violently, causing bleeding and swelling in the brain. It can cause death, blindness, and a host of other horrifying disabilities. According to The New York Times:

Between 1,200 and 1,400 children in the United States sustain head injuries attributed to abuse each year. Most of them are less than a year old. Usually, there’s not much dispute that these children were abused, because doctors discover other signs of mistreatment -- cuts, bruises, burns, fractures -- or a history of such injuries. There is no exact count of shaken-baby prosecutions, but law-enforcement authorities think that there are about 200 a year.

Shaken baby syndrome has specific internal symptoms -- subdural and retinal hemorrhage and brain swelling -- but little proof beyond those symptoms and, obviously, few want to admit they shook a baby. Parents like Erin Whitmer, whose son's babysitter was convicted of shaking him when he was a baby, have lived with the guilt that comes from putting their children in harm's way. On her blog Noah’s Road, Whitmer wrote:

Around 2:30 on April 20, 2009, Noah was shaken. He’d been crying. He needed something that his day care provider wasn’t providing him. Maybe he was tired of lying on the mat where she’d had him. Maybe he needed a hug, a laugh, a kind touch. Instead, she picked him up, her fingers gripping him tightly, feeling the softness of his velour pants and his cotton onesie under her fingers, and she shook him.

Little Noah was 4 months old when this happened and he fell into a coma. Once he came out, he had as many as 32 seizures a day. Now he is 2, and his 1-year-old brother is surpassing him developmentally.

His parents are heartbroken and rightfully so, and Trudy Eliana Muñoz Rueda, Noah's caregiver, has paid the price in jail and through the trial.

But did she actually shake him? That is the question experts are asking now. A growing number of experts say there are infections and bleeding disorders that can also show the same symptoms as shaken baby.

Intuitively, as a parent, I want to believe that. I want to believe that people wouldn't shake a little crying baby so hard that his eyes and brain would bleed. It's too horrifying to even contemplate. Who would do that? It's what we all wonder when we hear these stories, right? Sure, you get mad, you get frustrated, but you don't hurt the crying child.

If there are other explanations and if shaken baby syndrome isn't as common as we think, then there are parents and caregivers who have been falsely convicted, who have spent time in prison for harming a baby -- maybe their baby -- whom they never hurt.

It's tragic. Truly tragic. If science exonerates these people, then what will be done to compensate them for the pain?

Do you think it's possible shaken baby isn't always what happened?


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ja2010 ja2010


Pishyah Pishyah

Yes,. SBS is real.  There are also other causes of the same brand of brain damage.  For example, a man was sent to jail for supposedly shaking his baby, he did not do it.  After years in prison, he was let out when they proved that vaccines caused his SBS symptoms.

cmari... cmarie452

There are other things that can cause damage similar to SBS but they doctors usually work to rule them out before giving the diagnosis.  I know for a fact that most doctors won't give an SBS diagnosis until all other possibilites.  There are always cases where the doctor didn't do her/his job but for the most part they are pretty thorough.

Rioch Rioch

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) - DOES NOT EXIST.   

Head Injury in babies due to abuse DOES EXIST.

SBS is a theory.  i.e There has never been a laboratory test to see what happens if you shake a baby.

A Syndrome is a pattern you would expect to see repeatedly, i.e. Down's Syndrome has a set of features irrespective of age, race, gender and so on.

SBS, supposedly features a triad (three) of injuries:

 Bleeding to the brain, bleeding behind the eyes and swelling to brain and/or bruises.

98 of our cases were submitted to the British Medical Journal and only one case had 3 injuries.

For 15 years I've run The Five Percenters  , appearing as an expert on UK TV.  

We have over 500 families in the UK, US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, who state that they have been wrongly accused of SBS.

There are 9 other causes that mimic the injuries associated with SBS. 

Over 150 legal teams have used our information service, including the police and social services.

How do you tell the difference between abuse or non- abuse? 

The way forward is a protocol that we have developed that helps doctors determine the difference between abuse and non-abuse.   

Our protocol can be implemented worldwide.   It will prevent abused children being missed by doctors and innocent parents/carers being wrongly accused.

Randi02 Randi02

Yes, definitely.

Vaccines can cause brain swelling and symptoms that mirror SBS. It's interesting if you look at the ages where cases of 'SBS' occur most often - at 2 and 4 months... right around the time vaccinated babies receive their vaccines.


I definitely think it is possible.

toria... toriandgrace

I think that there are other things that can cause similar symptoms and these must be ruled out, but that's not to say that some people don't shake babies. Some people admit to having shaken babies. I used to care for a shaken baby who was 4 and had the mental capacity and physical ability of a 4 month old. So sad.

Penny Mellor

Each year, around 250 parents and carers are accused of killing or injuring children by shaking them or inflicting some other form of head injury. But an acrimonious scientific debate over the theory behind so-called Shaken Baby Syndrome, has turned toxic among the expert witnesses whose evidence is so critical in determining guilt or innocence.

Andrew Hosken examines claims of a campaign of dirty tricks to discredit those who question the orthodoxy and hears calls from one of the country's leading pathologists for an inquiry.
Producer Paul Grant.

Jim Peinkofer

It is unfortunate how some myths break out from the media or from the mouths of defense experts and take off like wildfire.

Take, for example, Shaken Baby Syndrome being caused by vaccinations. A totally preposterous idea that has been cycled from the courtroom to the minds of readers.

Please, get the facts about SBS before you make comments that are without merit. Shaking is a violent act, which causes injuries that are very specific to SBS. No other condition looks exactly like this diagnosis. Short falls off furniture don't produce these exact injuries, vaccines don't, nor does CPR, etc.
For more information, visit

Thank you.

James Peinkofer, LCSW
author - Silenced Angels: the Medical, Legal and Social Aspects of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Rioch Rioch

Facts about Shaken Baby Syndrome

A two part response. 

Part 1.

Fact: - Shaking a baby is a violent act and does exist.  

Fact: - There has never been a laboratory test on a live baby to confirm the SBS theory. Therefore it is NOT a syndrome.

Fact: - A syndrome requires a recurring set of features, which are not present in SBS. e.g Treacher Collins Syndrome, Down's Syndrome, etc.

The recurring set of features in SBS are stated to be: Subdural brain bleeds, bleeding behind the eyes and swelling to the brain.

So-called SBS was first identified in the 70's when a mentally ill woman confessed to shaking babies in her care.  A neurosurgeon wrote about the case and described the evidence as 'meagre and circumstantial' but by that time his theory had been taken hold of by Child Protection Agencies across the English speaking world.  That theory was later endorsed by The UK Department of Health.  

And how do you explain the following?

Fact: - Subdural brain bleeds in the womb, birth trauma and genetic factors, have been medically proven. 

Fact:- Eye bleeds due to blood disorders have been medically proven. 

Fact: - Solitary brain bleeds are wrongly diagnosed as SBS.

Fact:-  Solitary bleeds behind the eyes are wrongly diagnosed as SBS.

Where was the "triad" of injuries"?


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