Shaken Baby Syndrome
Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity to emphasize the dangers of shaking an infant or young child. A preventable, often life-threatening injury, Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is responsible for 95% of serious head injuries in children under the age of one.
- It can happen quickly. Just 3 seconds of shaking can cause brain damage, paralysis, blindness, learning and behavior difficulties, and even death.
- The average age of SBS victims is 6 months old.
- Continuous crying is the number one reason caregivers shake babies.
The good news is that SBS is completely preventable. A few simple strategies can help caregivers cope with a crying baby and prevent the irreversible harm of SBS.
Many SBS resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (see links below). SBS often occurs when a parent or other caregiver is frustrated by a child's crying. These resources can help save lives and prevent lifelong complications.
By working together, all New Yorkers can reduce the harm of SBS. You may know caregivers who are stressed or are easily frustrated by a child's crying. Perhaps you can give them some of the resources listed below or offer to care for their child to give them a brief break. And, if you think a child has been shaken, seek proper medical care immediately and report the incident to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (Child Abuse Hotline) at 1-800-342-3720. It can save a child's life.
Many SBS resources are available to New Yorkers. In Western New York, the Finger Lakes region and the Hudson Valley, many new parents receive SBS materials in the hospital when their child is born and at their child's first immunization. This initiative has reduced SBS injuries by 47% in Western New York alone. Funded by OCFS through the William B. Hoyt Children and Family Trust Fund, this program was honored by the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.
Another resource is the "New York Loves Safe Babies" 2007-08 calendar. Illustrated by students, the calendar includes valuable tips and strategies to support healthy growth and development. The calendars were produced by the Children and Family Trust Fund in partnership with Healthy Families New York, another OCFS program, and the state Department of Health.
For more information on OCFS initiatives related to SBS, or to request a calendar, contact Judy Richards, Child Welfare and Community Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York State online resources:
New York State Department of Health's website:
"Shaken Baby Syndrome" information:
New York Loves Safe Babies information kit:
Upstate New York Shaken Baby Project:
Brain Injury Association of New York;
The Skipper Initiative:
The Shaken Baby Alliance:
National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome: