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How Can I Prevent My Child from Being a Victim of SBS (Shaken Baby Syndrome)?

Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevent Your Child from Being a Victim of SBS

SBS is a serious injury that often causes long-term brain injury or death in children (1). It can occur from
just a few seconds of shaking (2). It is often the result of frustration from a crying infant and usually
occurs in children under two but can happen to children as old as five (3).


Babies have weak neck muscles and cannot support the weight of their heads. If a baby is forcefully
shaken, their fragile brain moves back and forth inside the skull. This causes bruising, swelling and
bleeding (4).


You can take steps to prevent your child from becoming a victim. The most important thing to recognize
is that you cannot tell if a person would shake your child ahead of time. Trusted sitters, family members,
and friends are often the perpetrators of shaking a child. Sometimes, even parents are the perpetrators.


The first step in prevention is ensuring that you and the child's other parent understand about SBS.
Before your baby is born, sit down with the other parent and devise a plan to handle your frustration
when dealing with a fussy or non-compliant child. No one expects they will ever get that frustrated, but
being unprepared can leave you among the long list of people who regret not being educated and
prepared.


Make a plan of action. Come up with a list of ten things you will do to try to calm your crying infant or to
keep yourself calm when dealing with other situations in child rearing. This can include checking to make
sure the child does not need a diaper change or need to be fed, taking the child for a walk in a stroller,
or calling a friend to give you a break. Make sure that as a last resort, you add putting your child in a safe
room or environment, closing the door, and walking away while letting them cry. Children do not die
from crying, but they can die from being shaken.


Next, educate anyone that you leave your child alone with. Tell them what happens when a baby is
shaken. Do not assume that everyone knows this. Even if it is your parent or grandparent, someone who
has raised several kids or operates a daycare, or someone you know you can trust 100%, you still need
to tell them what happens when a baby is shaken. Give them options to try if your child will not stop
crying, including calling you to come home and relieve them.


The only cure for SBS is prevention. "Take a Break! Don't Shake!"

References
(1) What is Shaken Baby Syndrome, January 20, 2023, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes,
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/shaken-baby-
syndrome#:~:text=Shaken%20baby%20syndrome%20is%20a,brain%20damage%20or%20even%20death.
(2) Shaken Baby Syndrome Facts and Figures, October 2010, New York State Department of Health,
https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/shaken_baby_syndrome/sbs_fact_sheet.htm
(3) Shaken Baby Syndrome Facts and Figures, October 2010, New York State Department of Health,
https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/shaken_baby_syndrome/sbs_fact_sheet.htm
(4) Shaken Baby Syndrome, March 18, 2023, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shaken-
baby-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20366619

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