Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is the hypothesis proposed by medical doctors that an infant can be shaken hard enough to cause a bleed on the brain (a subdural hematoma or hemorrhage) without any external trauma or impact.   The problem with this hypothesis is that bioengineers could not confirm the hypothesis in the laboratory.   (When I was in college getting my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering I was taught that the scientific method required the abandonment of a hypothesis that could not be confirmed experimentally.)  The fact that the shaken baby syndrome hypothesis could not be confirmed in the laboratory didn’t stop medical doctors from promoting the hypothesis as if it were fact.  When it became apparent that science didn’t support the SBS hypothesis, the medical doctors promoting it changed the terminology to shaken impact syndrome.  Despite the change in terminology, the medical profession has never abandoned the notion that even when there is absolutely impact or trauma, a brain bleed can be caused by shaking alone.  Because a growing minority of doctors has been challenging and dissenting from the shaken baby syndrome hypothesis, in 2009 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended yet another change in terminology.  Now the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the term Abusive Head Trauma to avoid identification of a mechanism of injury.  Whatever it is called, the hypothesis is flawed and creates a danger to innocent parents.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken the position that the mere presence of a subdural hematoma alone, without any other evidence of abuse, gives rise to a presumption that the cause of the subdural hematoma is non-accidental or inflicted trauma unless the parents can provide an accidental explanation or “history”.  This presumption based on a flawed hypothesis has almost universally been adopted by the child protective services community and law enforcement and has been the cause of many innocent parents, caregivers and boyfriends being arrested and/or having their children taken away.

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One Response to “What is the hypothesis of shaken baby syndrome?”

  1. nursing schools on May 30th, 2010 4:37 pm

    Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

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  • Mark Freeman is an attorney that got involved in defending those accused of shaking a child when a close friend was charged with child abuse for allegedly shaking his son.
  • After spending hundreds of hours investigating, reading medical journal articles and speaking with doctors from around the country about shaken baby syndrome, Mark confirmed with science what he knew in his heart, that his friend was innocent and that the doctors were wrong.
  • Since that first case, Mark has vigorously defended innocent parents of false charges of child abuse, regained custody of children for innocent parents and has defended innocent parents of criminal charges. Mark is now pursuing civil rights lawsuits in cases where false accusations of child abuse resulted in the violation of parents' civil rights.
  • Mark is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and consults with local attorneys in other states. Email Mark at mark@markdfreemanlaw.com or call Mark at: 1-800-580-0084