Shaken-baby syndrome, which is defined by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) as “a term used to describe the constellation of signs and symptoms resulting from violent shaking or shaking and impacting of the head of an infant or small child,” has been on the increase during the difficult economy, according to Time magazine. In the article “Study: Shaken-baby Cases Rose during the Recession,” Time’s Alice Park reported on the results of a recent study by the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver. According to Park, “the number of cases had increased to 9.3 per month as of Dec. 1, 2007, compared with 6 per month prior to that date – a rate that had held steady since 2004.”
The researches collected and analyzed data on 512 cases of head trauma in babies and toddlers, recorded by the children’s centers of four hospitals; the hospitals were located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, and Seattle, Washington. The study was led by child-abuse expert Dr. Rachel Berger at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg. According to Park, “Berger cautions that her study highlights an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, between the recession and incidence of shaken babies.”
The NCSBS reports that approximately 1,200 to 1,400 babies die or suffer serious injury from being shaken each year, making shaken-baby syndrome the leading cause of death in abusive head trauma cases among small children and infants. Additionally, the NCSBS reports that 80% of survivors of shaken-baby syndrome suffer permanent physical disabilities, “such as severe brain damage, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, behavioral disorders and impaired motor and cognitive skills.”
One explanation for a link between increased cases of shaken-baby syndrome and the decline of the economy is the amount of U.S. citizens finding they are suddenly unemployed or in precarious financial situations, who might also be struggling from depression or suicidal tendencies. People turn to smoking, alcohol and other methods of escape to cope with the increase of stress; many find themselves suffering from stress-related illnesses, such as heart disease. This decrease in the ability to cope with the economic downturn and vast financial situations can lead to a decline in patience with children, and an increase in shaken-baby cases.
“This is a perfect storm in a bad way, where we have economic stressors that are causing the removal of social-service resources for preventing and addressing child abuse,” Alice Park quotes Dr. Berger as explaining.Park also reported that researchers discovered a fivefold increase in brain injuries caused by child abuse in the six months following a hurricane disaster in eastern North Carolina-unaffected regions of the state reported no such increase in shaken-baby syndrome and other child abuse cases.
The NCSBS website offers a vast library in shaken-baby syndrome, including outcomes and consequences, information and scientific findings on the side effects of child abuse, online training and information packets and quizzes about child safety, shaken-baby syndrome and their “PURPLE” training program. They also accept donations to help pay for support, training and information for families of victims of shaken-baby syndrome.
Alice Park, “Study: Shaken-Baby Cases Rose During the Recession,” Time Magazine
NCSBS, “National Center on Shaken-Baby Syndrome,”