“Shaken baby syndrome” (SBS) results in intracranial and intraocular hemorrhages with no evidence of external trauma. The cause of these injuries is vigorous shaking of an infant being held by the chest, shoulders, or extremities. A significant number of cases of head trauma in infants and young children are a direct result of SBS. In extreme cases, SBS may result in death. Many cases of SBS go unidentified because of the absence of external injuries, no witnesses to the event, and the failure of the abuser to admit his or her actions. Because of the numbers of children affected and the difficulty in detecting SBS, it is essential that critical care nurses who care for children be aware of SBS as a potentially lethal form of abuse. This article educates nurses about the signs and symptoms of SBS in an attempt to foster early recognition and interventions in cases of SBS to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with the syndrome.
Staff Nurse II, Emergency Center, University Hospital, San Antonio, Texas (Fulton)