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Shaken Baby Syndrome

At times, a short-tempered father may just pick up a screaming baby and shake it vigorously.

Often when babies cry, parents quickly figure out that gently rocking them from side to side or up and down in their arms often helps soothe them. At times, a gentle rocking motion calms them down immediately, and at other times, a more vigorous rocking motion may be required. However, what’s scary is that there’s no line between what is safe vigorous rocking and what is dangerous shaking – and parents often rock the baby so vigorously that the baby gets seriously injured and often dies due to this shaking.

As all mothers know, babies can be very frustrating. A good night’s sleep becomes a thing of the past, and when you need rest the most and are just about to drop off to sleep, your baby starts wailing. Not everyone has the patience to deal with this and in frustration and anger, a mother at her wit’s end may just hold the baby and shake it as a means of coping with her frustration. Remember that doing so may just cause you a lifetime of grief and agony.

Who is the perpetrator?

Although you may feel that maids, baby sitters or siblings are the most likely to harm your baby by shaking it in this fatal manner, statistics very clearly indicate that 50% of babies who are shaken up to the point of serious injury, are so shaken by their natural parents. The remaining 50% could be stepparents, siblings, baby sitters and others.

15% of baby deaths are caused due to shaking, and almost 80% of times, this shaking is caused by males.

The common characteristic shared by all these males is that they are short-tempered, and often careless. Naturally, no matter how angry a father, he will not want to cause harm to his child on purpose, and he shakes the baby without knowing what impact this will have.

Shaking is not play

Fathers may even shake their baby more as a form of play than any real anger – they may find it amusing to see the baby suddenly quiet down when it’s been crying, and their heads bobbing around out of control. And it is only hours or sometimes days later that they realise something is wrong with the baby. It is thus important to be aware of the fact that shaking your baby hard may cause serious injury like retardation, paralysis, blindness, or death.

What is the best way to calm baby?

Gentle rocking in your lap is possibly the safest way to calm your baby.

Be careful when handing your baby to help So also, be very careful about giving a baby that cries a lot or a colicky baby to a maid or babysitter. If you lose your patience when looking after your baby, there’s no telling what a maid or babysitter may do to silence your baby. But as a mother or father, you too need to pull out all the patience from all your reserves when looking after your baby.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome include babies suddenly going silent and not crying for a long time, not moving too much, not making sounds, unable to shake head from side to side.

If you have shaken your baby vigorously and without any neck support, and you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.


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