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Shaken baby syndrome: causes and symptoms

baby syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome, also called maltreatment head trauma, is a severe brain injury whose main cause is violent shaking. It can affect babies of a few months, but can also occur in young children up to three and four years.

The shaking causes damage to the brain cells and prevents the child’s brain from receiving enough oxygen. As a consequence, it can trigger hemorrhages, bruises, irreparable brain damage or even death.

Its symptoms vary depending on the region of the affected brain, but it often presents with diffuse axonal damage. In some cases, they manifest themselves clearly in a short time, but can also cause long-term sequel.

Why does this syndrome occur? How to prevent it? For many, it is still an unknown condition. Therefore, below we want to reveal its main causes, the warning symptoms and some recommendations to reduce the risks.

Causes of the shaken baby syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome

The shaken baby syndrome is produced by a violent shaking that detonates brain injuries. The sudden movement of the baby’s fragile brain can cause inflammation, bruising and bleeding. This, in turn, results in traumas that become deadly. Read more: Danger: 5 ingredients that should not be in your cosmetics

It usually occurs when one of the parents or caregivers shakes the baby intensely because it does not stop crying. That violent reaction can be unplanned, but also voluntary and intentional.

Risk factor’s

  • Having unrealistic expectations about babies
  • Be young or single parents
  • Being subjected to constant stress situations
  • Domestic violence
  • Consumption and abuse of alcohol and substances
  • Unstable family situations
  • Anxiety and depression

Symptoms of the shaken baby syndrome

the baby syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome does not usually cause physical injury to the baby’s body. Sometimes the face may bruise. Trauma is not always immediate and can develop gradually, depending on the region of the brain involved. Read more: What is an intermenstrual pelvic pain?

Some signs and symptoms of this condition are:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Rigidity
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Respiratory problems
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blood spots in the eyes
  • Low tonality of the muscles
  • Vomiting and anorexia

Mild cases of shaken baby syndrome do not usually show warning symptoms. However, the child may manifest later health problems or behavior disorders.


Shaking an infant violently, even for a brief moment, can lead to irreversible brain damage. Even many abused children die due to this syndrome. Those who survive require medical attention to avoid complications such as:

  • Vision problems or blindness
  • Mental retardation and learning and behavior problems
  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Seizure disorders
  • Cerebral palsy

Prevention of shaken baby syndrome

best baby syndrome

One of the usual ways to prevent shaken baby syndrome is training classes for novice parents. These types of therapies help to understand why it is dangerous to shake the baby and how to handle his crying correctly.

Many parents shake their baby because they do not know what causes the crying and how to control it. In addition, some are completely unaware of the serious consequences of shaking.

Other types of help are therapies with mental health professionals. The psychologist or psychiatrist can teach strategies to curb negative emotions and the stress of parenthood.

Tips for managing baby’s crying

  • Verify that the baby is not hungry and, if so, breastfeed.
  • Refresh the baby if it is too hot or warm it if it is cold.
  • Check your diaper in case it’s time to change.
  • Check the temperature of the baby and see if you have symptoms of any disease.
  • Feed the baby slowly and burp it.
  • Cuddle the baby or lull it.
  • Walk the baby in his stroller.

If none of the above works, you should keep calm and breathe. It is best to put the baby in the crib or corral and let it vent with the crying. At that time it is also good to ask for support from a family member or friend. If the baby continues to cry, it is best to consult the doctor, as he may be sick.


The shaken baby syndrome is the result of a violent shaking during an episode of frustration or anger at your profuse crying. Although it does not always show immediate signs, it can cause the serious sequel to the child’s brain health.

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