Can you recognize the signs of shaken baby syndrome? During the COVID19 pandemic in 2020, the rate of child abuse increased significantly in the state of Texas. According to the Communities Foundation of Texas, Texas had 251 confirmed child abuse and neglect-related fatalities, an increase of 6% compared to 235 child abuse and neglect related fatalities in FY2019. Of those, 50 children (20.3%) died of physical abuse (blunt force trauma and intentional homicide);169 children (72%) were 3 years and younger. This article was written to help you identify the signs. Please read the information below for more details.

What is Shaken Baby Syndrome

● Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is a closed-head traumatic brain injury that tends to occur in babies, toddlers, and special needs children.
● SBS is the result of physical child abuse.

o It occurs when a parent or caregiver becomes upset, and then shakes the child vigorously and violently because the child will not stop crying or is unable to perform a task.
o During the event, the child’s head jerks around, and the brain smashes against the inside of the skull wall, causing nerve damage and bleeding on the brain.

● The injury can cause permanent brain damage or death.

Signs and symptoms

● Seizures
● Shock
● Decreased movement
● A very stiff body
● Trouble sucking or swallowing
● Vomiting
● Eating less than usual
● Not smiling or cooing
● Blue skin color from having difficulty breathing
● Pupils varied in size (dilated or constricted)
● Inability to lift the head
● Difficulty focusing


● Eye examinations to determine possible retinal hemorrhages
● Use of X-rays of all bones to discover any fractures
● CT or MRI of the head to assess skull fractures, brain bleeds, and swelling


● If you suspect your child or someone else’s child of having SBS or any symptoms mentioned above, please follow-up with a pediatrician, family physician, or nearest ER as soon as possible.
● If you suspect that the child may be in danger, please call the police and child protective services.


● The long-term effects of SBS may consist of:

o Poor eyesight or blindness,
o Hearing loss,
o Seizures,
o Delayed development,
o Problems with speech,
o Difficulty learning and focusing,
o Cerebral palsy,
o Weakness in the extremities.

Unfortunately, some of these symptoms may appear after the child starts school, so long-term care may be needed.

Shaken Baby Syndrome
Figure 1: Diagnosis SBS, pills, and stethoscope


Communities Foundation of Texas. (2020). Shaken Baby Alliance.

Designer491. (2019). Diagnosis SBS, pills, and stethoscope. [Picture].

NIH. (2019). Shaken Baby Syndrome.

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