Abnormal Development - Shaken Baby Syndrome

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Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is used to describe the spectrum of neurological (eye, brain, subdural haemorrhage) and other (skeletal) injuries resulting from forcibly shaking an infant.

Some Recent Findings

  • Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome)[1] "Pediatric abusive head trauma (AHT) most often involves brain injury of infants and young children. Another term for this condition is shaken baby syndrome (SBS)."
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<pubmed limit=5>Shaken Baby Syndrome</pubmed>

NIH Information Sheet

What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken baby syndrome is a severe form of head injury that occurs when a baby is shaken forcibly enough to cause the baby’s brain to rebound (bounce) against his or her skull. This rebounding may cause bruising, swelling, and bleeding (intracerebral hemorrhage) of the brain, which may lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death. The condition is usually the result of non-accidental trauma or child abuse. In rare instances it may be caused by tossing a baby in the air or jogging with a baby in a backpack. Symptoms may include changes in behavior, irritability, lethargy, loss of consciousness, pale or bluish skin, vomiting, and convulsions. Although there usually are no outward physical signs of trauma, there may be broken, injured, or dislocated bones and injuries to the neck and spine.

Is there any treatment?

Immediate emergency treatment is necessary and usually includes life-sustaining measures such as stopping internal bleeding and relieving increased intracranial pressure.

What is the prognosis?

Generally, the prognosis for children with shaken baby syndrome is poor. Most will be left with considerable disability. Retinal damage may cause loss of vision. If the child survives, he or she may require lifelong medical care for brain damage injuries such as mental retardation or cerebral palsy.

What research is being done?

The NINDS conducts and supports research on trauma-related disorders, including head injuries. Much of this research focuses on increasing scientific understanding of these disorders and finding ways to prevent and treat them.

Where can I find more information?

These articles, available from a medical library, are sources of in-depth information on shaken baby syndrome:

Alexander, R, et al. "Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Intracranial Injuries from Child Abuse." Journal of Pediatrics, 109:6; 975-979 (1986).

Frank, Y, et al. "Neurological Manifestations in Abused Children Who Have Been Shaken." Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 27; 312-316 (1985).

Joynt, R (ed). Clinical Neurology, vol. 3, Chapter 30, J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, p. 62 (1990).

Spaide, R, et al. "Shaken Baby Syndrome." American Family Physician, 41:4; 1145-1152 (April 1990).

Additional information is available from the following organization (last updated 3-6-00):

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Building 31, Room 2A32

Bethesda, MD 20892-2425

(301) 496-5133


  1. Joyce T & Huecker MR. (2018). Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome). , , . PMID: 29763011


Squier W. (2011). The "Shaken Baby" syndrome: pathology and mechanisms. Acta Neuropathol. , 122, 519-42. PMID: 21947257 DOI.

Levin AV. (2010). Retinal hemorrhage in abusive head trauma. Pediatrics , 126, 961-70. PMID: 20921069 DOI.

Ashton R. (2010). Practitioner review: beyond shaken baby syndrome: what influences the outcomes for infants following traumatic brain injury?. J Child Psychol Psychiatry , 51, 967-80. PMID: 20524940 DOI.


Chan V, Thurairajah P & Colantonio A. (2015). Defining pediatric traumatic brain injury using International Classification of Diseases Version 10 Codes: a systematic review. BMC Neurol , 15, 7. PMID: 25648197 DOI.

Paiva WS, Soares MS, Amorim RL, de Andrade AF, Matushita H & Teixeira MJ. (2011). Traumatic brain injury and shaken baby syndrome. Acta Med Port , 24, 805-8. PMID: 22525633

Stewart TC, Polgar D, Gilliland J, Tanner DA, Girotti MJ, Parry N & Fraser DD. (2011). Shaken baby syndrome and a triple-dose strategy for its prevention. J Trauma , 71, 1801-7. PMID: 22182892 DOI.

Laurent-Vannier A, Nathanson M, Quiriau F, Briand-Huchet E, Cook J, Billette de Villemeur T, Chazal J, Christophe C, Defoort-Dhellemmes S, Fortin G, Rambaud C, Raul JS, Rey-Salmon C, Sottet F, Vieux E, Vinchon M & Willinger R. (2011). A public hearing "Shaken baby syndrome: guidelines on establishing a robust diagnosis and the procedures to be adopted by healthcare and social services staff". Guidelines issued by the Hearing Commission. Ann Phys Rehabil Med , 54, 600-25. PMID: 22118914 DOI.

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, June 21) Embryology Abnormal Development - Shaken Baby Syndrome. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Abnormal_Development_-_Shaken_Baby_Syndrome

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