Shaking a baby can cause brain damage
German doctors find that shaking a crying baby can cause brain damage, disabilities and even death.10 November 2008
COLOGNE - A crying baby should never be shaken as this can cause severe brain damage or even death, Germany's professional association for paediatricians said in Cologne.
Parents should leave the room or count to 10 and take a deep breath before acting hastily, the association advises.
About 100 infants in Germany annually suffer severe brain damage because they were shaken by caregivers. This figure was reported by the census for rare paediatric illnesses in Germany, but the paediatricians association estimates the number of babies in Germany that suffer trauma from shaking is higher.
Experts determined that a risk factor for trauma from shaking is excessive crying. Brain damage resulting from force is the most common cause of death among babies ages six to 12 months.
"The baby's head is proportionally larger and the brain is sitting relatively high with a high amount of fluid," said Professor Hans-Juergen Nentwich, a member of the association's board of directors. "Only about five seconds of hard shaking are enough to break the brain functions."
Blood vessels and nerves tear, causing bleeding in the brain and brain damage. Bleeding around the eyes is also possible. More than two-thirds of the children who suffer trauma from shaking have permanent vision, hearing and speaking disabilities. Up to a quarter die from their injuries, Nentwich said.
[Dpa / Expatica]