Shaking is a form of physical abuse that results in pain and temporary or permanent physical damage to children.
Shaking refers to movement whereby an adult shakes the baby violently while holding it under the armpits. Often, the perpetrator is the parent or other close relative or carer of the child.
The shaking duration is shorter than a few seconds and most likely no longer than 20 seconds. For a longer period of time, the vigorous adult cannot usually continue to shake. Shaking injuries cannot be caused by the baby itself or caused, for example, in a sling or stroller, and injuries cannot be caused by jumping cuttings.
Shaking can cause a young child to develop a special syndrome called “Shaken baby” syndrome. The symptoms of a shaken baby can range from mild and atypical to severe neurological and can even lead to death. The most common symptoms are crying, vomiting, respiratory failure, seizure symptoms, poor eating and impaired consciousness. The most common clinical symptoms are bleeding in the brain (90%) and eyes (68-84%). Performing together, they are almost a sure sign of shaking.
Shaking causes acute and immediate symptoms as well as injuries that are significant, only when the child grows up. A child can recover well from the start of his or her injuries, and even asymptomatic, relatively quickly. Even fast recoverers may later be diagnosed with cognitive impairment, behavioral disorders and neurological symptoms such as motor problems, developmental delays, recurrent epileptic seizure-like conditions and visual impairment.
The consequences of shaking a baby are largely explained by the baby’s anatomy because the head is heavy against the rest of the body and the neck muscles still support the head poorly. During shaking, the baby’s head will make a reciprocating motion that can cause injuries and symptoms.