What is shaken baby syndrome?

Dr Himani Narula Khanna
0 to 1 years

Created by Dr Himani Narula Khanna
Updated on May 27, 2017

What is shaken baby syndrome
Reviewed by Expert panel

Shaken baby syndrome is an abusive head trauma. It is caused when the baby or toddler is shaken forcefully. It is also known as abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome. This forceful shaking sometimes leads to fatal head injury which can destroy a baby's brain cells and prevent the brain from getting enough oxygen. In some of the cases, it can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Shaken baby syndrome is preventable. Parents need to handle the baby carefully while expressing their feelings of love or anger. Handling our emotions appropriately will prevent us from taking out our frustration and anger through inadvertent methods on our little ones.

Affected age group: Under  5 years. However infants are more commonly affected .

Predisposing causes:

Young or single parenthood


Domestic violence

Alcohol or substance abuse

Unstable family


A history of abuse as a child

When parents or caregivers out of frustration tend to shake the baby when she doesnt stop crying.


Babies in infancy have weak neck muscles and if baby is shaken forcefully, her brain moves back and forth inside the skull leading to bruising , swelling and bleeding .

Normal play, such as bouncing a child on a knee or gently tossing a child in the air, does not cause shaken baby syndrome.

Symptoms and signs:

Child may appear normal but over a period of repeated shaking can develop some learning and behavioural changes.

Extreme irritability


Breathing problems

Poor eating


Pale color



Trouble hearing.

Bleeding inside one or both eyes.



May have other signs of child abuse like bruises, burns , fractures etc.

How to diagnose ?

A thorough medical history followed by a detail physical exam to look for signs of injury, an increased blood pressure.

A CT scan or an MRI to look for bleeding or other injury in the brain.

X-rays to check for fractures.

An eye exam can reveal bleeding and other eye injuries.

Some blood tests to rule out some metabolic and genetic disorders, some

bleeding and clotting disorders that can lead to similar presentation.

What are long term effects?

Partial or total blindness

Hearing loss

Developmental delays, learning problems or behavior issues

Mental retardation

Seizure disorders

Cerebral palsy

Coma and death.

Treatment: This will include life saving measures, may require breathing support and methods to stop bleeding in brain and methods to reduce the swelling in brain.

How to prevent It?

We can prevent this problem by teaching parents healthy ways to relieve stress and anger. To carefully choose child care provider.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Feb 28, 2020

Got a reply for this?

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| Feb 28, 2020


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| May 28, 2017


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| May 08, 2017

informative and alarming blog

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| May 06, 2017

Very often my baby falls from 2 or 3 foot high place.... will it effect on his brain??plz ans.. my babe is now 2 yrs..

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| May 06, 2017

many people tend to shake the baby fast in the hope that baby will stop crying ... not to cause intentional harm ... can that lead to this syndrome???

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| May 06, 2017

Nice blog

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| Apr 10, 2017

Kya main bab bag use KAR Sakti hunbmujhe Punjab Jana hy Meri baby 3 n half month ki hy

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| Mar 31, 2017

very useful information

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| Mar 29, 2017

b olmķb

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| Mar 29, 2017

my baby is 3 month old sometimes i swing her for her sleep speedily. and Meri ml bhi isko hawa me uchalti Hai ye roti Hai to chup karane ke liye. kai baar jhatke SE uthati hain. kabhi ekdam SE niche leta deti Hai. isse koi nuksaan ??

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| Mar 16, 2017

This blog is such a wonderfully... very useful info.. thanks so much for sharing! nice one is here..

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| Aug 06, 2016

important info

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| Jul 23, 2016

Very useful information to all parents

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| Jun 29, 2016

You should also read the blog - WHEN WILL MY BABY TALK -

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| Jun 29, 2016

You should immediately consult a developmental pediatrician.

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| Jun 29, 2016

hi, my baby boy is 3 yr 3 months by he say only 2,3 words, he cannot speak what shall i do plz suggest me.

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| Jun 29, 2016

Not really. Down syndrome is something different. Or what you call as mental retardation can be for a different cause.

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| Jun 24, 2016

are these some of the reasons for mental retardation in babies

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| Jun 23, 2016

Thanks . Very much helpful.

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| Jun 22, 2016

Very informative and very useful. Thanks for such a nice information.

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