SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:
- Extreme irritability
- Difficulty staying awake
- Breathing problems
- Poor eating
- Pale or bluish skin
Other injuries that may not be noticeable include bleeding in the brain and eye, damage to the spinal cord and neck, and fractures of the ribs, skull and bones. Evidence of prior child abuse also is common.
In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken, but over time he or she may develop health, learning or behavior problems.
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate help if you suspect your child has been injured by violent shaking.
Contact your child's doctor or take your child to the nearest emergency room. Getting medical care right away may save your child's life or prevent serious health problems. Health care professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities.
- Abusive head trauma: Shaken baby syndrome. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Abusive-Head-Trauma-Shaken-Baby-Syndrome.aspx. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Never shake your baby! March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/prematurity/28127.asp. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- NINDS shaken baby syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shakenbaby/shakenbaby.htm. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Christian C, et al. Epidemiology, mechanisms, and types of abusive head injury in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Christian C, et al. Evaluation and diagnosis of abusive head injury in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Barnes PD. The imaging of nonaccidental injury and the mimics: Issues and controversies in the era of evidence-based medicine. Radiologic Clinics of North America. 2011;49:205.