Massachusetts Personal Injury Library

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a Form of Child Abuse

When a new baby arrives, most parents do everything possible to protect their little one. They take important safety measures and read as many parenting books as they can find. For parents who are sleep-deprived or over-stressed though, a crying baby can cause them to lose control of their temper. A parent or caregiver who shakes a baby puts that child at an immense risk of permanent disability and even death.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is considered a form of child abuse and should never happen.

Causes for Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome is caused when someone who is taking care of a child loses control and out of anger violently shakes the baby. Most often people shake infants and babies to try to get them to stop crying, not realizing the damage they may cause to the child.

Children younger than 2 years of age are especially susceptible to Shaken Baby Syndrome. Young children have weak neck muscles and are not strong enough to fully control their head movements. When someone shakes a young child, the child's head whips back and forth and this force slams the fragile brain tissue against the hard skull. Bruising, bleeding and swelling can follow, which ultimately leads to serious injuries and sometimes death.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Injuries

Injuries associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome include the following:

  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech difficulties
  • Impaired use of arms and legs
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Loss of hearing
  • Blindness – partial or total
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis
  • Mental retardation

Chapter 365 of the Act of 2006

In November 2006, Governor Mitt Romney signed a bill to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The bill is titled Chapter 365 of the Act of 2006. Since the law was enacted as emergency legislation, it took effect immediately. Chapter 365 of the Act of 2006 was the result of a collaborative effort of non-profit, private and public agencies and individuals who wanted to reduce death and disability caused by Shaken Baby Syndrome. The law specifies the implementation of a statewide Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention initiative. The program is meant to educate and train parents, caregivers and professionals, as well as support victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Shaken Baby Syndrome is preventable. Friends, relatives, babysitters, childcare providers, siblings and anyone else around the young child should be aware of the dangers of shaking a baby. The Massachusetts Citizens for Children's website has helpful tips for staying calm to avoid shaking a child. There is also a free helpline for parents who are stressed and fear that they may harm their child. The number for the 24-hour Massachusetts Parental Stress Line is 800-632-8188.

If you suspect that your child has been shaken by a childcare provider, babysitter, relative, friend or other caregiver, explore your legal options by consulting with an experienced Boston child injury lawyer at the Kiley Law Group.

Call 1-(888) 208-1695 for a Free Consultation.

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