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Physical Manifestations of Shaken Baby Syndrome

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Nursing Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: 2009 Pages: 26-30
Megan A. Mraz M.S.N., R.N.
Date Published
5 pages
Following a review of the history of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) and the physical symptoms of a child suspected of experiencing this form of abuse, this article draws implications for the responsibilities of forensic nurses in addressing SBS.
SBS occurs in a young child when he/she is shaken back and forth or side to side such that the child’s brain bounces against the skull. This results in the swelling and bruising of the brain. Some of the signs of SBS are cerebral edema; retinal and cerebral hemorrhaging; bone fractures, both old and new; cerebral atrophy; hydrocephalus; papilledema; and cervical spine injury. Forensic nurses have the educational background and the clinical expertise to provide input into an inquiry occasioned by symptoms of SBS. Forensic nurses must be up-to-date on the most current research on SBS. Other responsibilities of the forensic nurse in addressing SBS are to participate in investigations when SBS is suspected and assist in planning prevention of this type of child abuse. Because the physical manifestations of SBS are not always clear, forensic nurses must be well schooled in the potential injuries that may result from shaking. Forensic nurses must disseminate this information to health-care providers as well as pathologists, child abuse consultants, and attorneys. Another responsibility of forensic nurses in addressing SBS is primary prevention. This could involve the presentation of seminars for daycare providers and classes for new parents (particularly adolescent parents) and foster parents in which the nature and dangers of SBS are explained. Information on SBS should also be posted and available at pediatricians’ offices and clinics. 18 references