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- It’s normal for babies to cry, and long, inconsolable crying can occur in completely normal developing babies.
- A parent or caregiver’s response to an inconsolable crying baby is most often the trigger to Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), also known as Abusive Head Trauma — a serious type of brain injury that happens when an infant or toddler is violently shaken. Shaking a baby is a serious form of child abuse that occurs mostly in infants in the first year of life.
- As many as 4,000 incidents of SBS are reported each year across the country. Boys are more frequently identified as victims of SBS, though researchers do not fully understand why. Male caregivers (fathers, boyfriends) account for more than two-thirds of reported cases.
- Shaking or striking a baby’s head can cause serious physical and mental damage, even death. Serious injuries associated with abusive head trauma may include blindness or eye injuries, brain damage, damage to the spinal cord, and delay in normal development.
- Signs and symptoms of SBS may include irritability, lethargy (difficulty staying awake), tremors (shakiness), vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing and coma. If you or a caregiver has shaken your baby, or if you suspect that your baby has been shaken, call 911 or take your baby to the nearest emergency department immediately. Early treatment can make a difference in the severity of the injury.
- You can prevent SBS by having a plan when your baby cries and by keeping your cool.
- Be sure to tell anyone who spends time with your baby about Keeping Their Cool, how crying is normal, and how it can be overwhelming sometimes. Make sure they have a plan too.
This program is being presented with financial assistance as a grant to the TEAM for West Virginia.
Children from the WV Department of Health and Human Resources
and funding support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.