Your Baby

Higher ADHD Risks Linked to Premature Births


The risk that a child will have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is relatively low among the general population. However, a new study suggests that the more premature a baby is when born; the risk for ADHD increases significantly.

Finnish researchers led by Dr. Minna Sucksdorff of the University of Turku compared more than 10,000 children with ADHD against more than 38,000 children without ADHD but similar in terms of gender, birth date and place of birth.

The researchers used birth medical records to see how far along in the pregnancy the mother was when the child was born. They also looked at whether the children were underweight or overweight for what is expected at that gestational age.

The study results showed that the risk of ADHD increased for each week earlier that a child was born. A full-term pregnancy is considered to be 40 weeks.

The odds of children with ADHD were 10 times greater when they were born during the 23rd to 24th week of pregnancy. Children born between the 27th and 33rd week of pregnancy were twice as likely to have ADHD compared to those without ADHD.

Other factors that affect gestational age and ADHD were also taken in account such as the mother’s age and whether she smoked or used drugs or alcohol. After these considerations, the findings remained the same.

In regards to birth weight, researchers found that infants born at very low or very high weight percentages were also at a higher risk for ADHD.

These findings imply that the pathways in the fetal brain may develop differently in children who are not adequately nourished, or are over-nourished, in the womb, or once a child is delivered prematurely, said Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical director of Children's Health Council in Palo Alto, Calif.

However, he added, this type of study cannot show that premature birth or growth rate in the womb actually causes ADHD. Symptoms of the common brain disorder include inattention, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity, which can affect a child's ability to learn and make friends.

Most early cesarean births happen because a mother and / or her infant are in distress and surgery is needed to protect one or the other or both of their health. Planned cesareans are typically scheduled close to the original due date and are unlikely to be associated to ADHD risk. However, the findings may give doctors something to consider when making a decision about cesarean birth.

"Since both gestational weight and gestational age have marked effects, clinicians may face difficult choices if a fetus is not thriving in the womb at an early gestational age," Elliott said. "Does one deliver the child early to enhance nutrition or delay to minimize the effects of premature delivery?"

The risk is still low overall that a child will have ADHD, and these findings are based on a child's relative risk of having the condition compared to others, Elliott added. The study suggests that the chance for ADHD appears to be greatest among the very premature babies.

The findings were published in the August 24th online edition of  the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle,

Your Baby

Moms Getting Poor Advice on Baby’s Health Care


Moms are getting conflicting advice on infant and child care from family members, online searchers and even their family doctors a recent study found.

Oftentimes, that advice goes against the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for topics such as breast-feeding, vaccines, pacifier use and infant-sleep, researchers say.

"In order for parents to make informed decisions about their baby's health and safety, it is important that they get information, and that the information is accurate," said the study's lead author, Dr. Staci Eisenberg, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center.

"We know from prior studies that advice matters," Eisenberg said. Parents are more likely to follow the recommendations of medical professionals when they "receive appropriate advice from multiple sources, such as family and physicians," she added.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. mothers. Their children were between 2 months and 6 months old. Researchers asked the mothers what advice they had been given on a variety of topics, including vaccines, breastfeeding, pacifiers and infant sleep position and location.

Sources for information included medical professionals, family members, online searches and other media such as television shows. Mothers got the majority of their advice from doctors. However, some of that advice contradicted the recommendations from the AAP on these topics.

For example, as much as 15 percent of the advice mothers received from doctors on breast-feeding and on pacifiers didn't match recommendations. Similarly, 26 percent of advice about sleeping positions contradicted recommendations. And nearly 29 percent of mothers got misinformation on where babies should sleep, the study found.

"I don't think too many people will be shocked to learn that medical advice found online or on an episode of Dr. Oz might be very different from the recommendations of pediatric medical experts or even unsupported by legitimate evidence," said Dr. Clay Jones, a pediatrician specializing in newborn medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts. He said inaccurate advice from some family members might not be surprising, too.

Mothers got advice from family members between 30 percent and 60 percent of the time, depending on the topic. More than 20 percent of the advice about breast-feeding from family members didn't match AAP recommendations.

Similarly, family advice related to pacifiers, where babies sleep and babies' sleep position went against the AAP recommendations two-thirds of the time, the study found.

"Families give inconsistent advice largely because they are not trained medical professionals and are basing their recommendations on personal anecdotal experience," Jones said.

Less than half of the mothers said they used media sources for advice except when it came to breastfeeding. Seventy percent reported their main source of advice on breastfeeding came from media sources; many of these sources were not consistent with AAP recommendations.

In addition, more than a quarter of the mothers who got advice about vaccines from the media received information that was not consistent with AAP recommendations.

"Mothers get inconsistent advice from the media, especially the Internet, because it is the Wild West with no regulation on content at all," Jones said.

The possible consequences of bad advice depend on the topic and the advice, Jones said.

"Not vaccinating your child against potentially life-threatening diseases like measles is an obvious example," he said. "Others may result in less risk of severe illness or injury but may still result in increased stress and anxiety, such as inappropriately demonizing the use of pacifiers while breast-feeding."

Mothers who look for information online should stick to sources such as the AAP, the American Academy of Family Physicians or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Eisenberg suggested.

Even though some advice from doctors did not follow AAP recommendations entirely, Eisenberg and Jones agreed that doctors are the best source for mothers on the health and care of their children.

"While our findings suggest that there is room for improvement, we did find that health care providers were an important source of information, and the information was generally accurate," Eisenberg said. "But I would encourage parents to ask questions if they don't feel like their provider has been entirely clear, or if they have any questions about the recommendations."

The study was published in the July edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle,


Your Baby

Breastfeeding May Improve Infant’s Dental Development.


Infants that breastfeed exclusively or predominately for their first three to six months of life are less likely to develop any kind of dental misalignment later on according to a new study.

The researchers, led by Karen Peres at the University of Adelaide in Australia, tracked just over 1,300 children for five years, including how much they breast-fed at 3 months, 1 year and 2 years old.

The children were also monitored for pacifier use.  About forty percent used a pacifier daily for four years.

When the children were 5, the researchers determined which of them had various types of misaligned teeth or jaw conditions, including open bite, cross bite, overbite or a moderate to severe misalignment.

The risk of overbite was one-third lower for those who exclusively breast-fed for three to six months compared to those who didn't, the findings showed. If they breast-fed at least six months or more, the risk of overbite dropped by 44 percent.

Similarly, children who exclusively breast-fed for three months to six months were 41 percent less likely to have moderate to severe misalignment of the teeth. Breast-feeding six months or longer reduced their risk by 72 percent.

The reason breastfeeding might offer protection from dental misalignments is the way it works an infant’s jaws. Breastfeeding involves coordinated tongue and jaw movements that support the normal development of teeth and facial muscles.

Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, agrees that it’s the jaw movement.

"Breast-feeding requires the use of jaw muscles more so than bottle-feeding, so the mechanics of breast-feeding stimulate muscle tone in the jaw," Fisher said.

Open bite, overbite and moderate to severe misalignment were generally less common overall among the children who mostly or exclusively breast-fed. Children who mostly breast-fed but also used pacifiers, however, were slightly more likely to have one of these misalignment issues, the study found.

"Pacifiers are used for non-nutritive sucking but when overused, they can put pressure on the developing jaw and lead to more problems in older children with malocclusion [teeth/jaw misalignment]," Fisher said.

Parents oftentimes depend on the pacifier to help babies relax and self-soothe. The key is moderation of use.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents consider using a pacifier for an infant's first six months because pacifiers are associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

"Most infants need to suck for comfort or non-nutritive sucking," Fisher said. "Pacifiers can be helpful in the newborn period and even help reduce incidents of SIDS in infants who sleep with them."

Instead, parents should simply limit pacifier use, she said. In addition, pacifiers are not needed past the first six to 12 months, Fisher said, so parents can begin weaning after that time.

Like most studies, the results did not prove cause and effect, but an association.

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle,

Your Baby

Transitioning From Breastfeeding to Bottle-feeding


There are as many reasons as there are mothers for deciding to transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. It doesn’t matter what the reason may be, making the change is a difficult choice for some mothers.

“Every mother experiences mixed emotions about weaning and usually feels some sadness about bringing nursing to an end,” says Kathleen Huggins, RN, author of The Nursing Mother's Companion.

Huggins offers several tips for mothers who have made the choice to switch.

At around 6 months (some parents start even earlier), babies are beginning to eat solid foods. Since these foods are more filling, many babies may want less breast milk. If you’re considering switching to the bottle, this is a good time to introduce bottle-feeding - a little at a time.

“Most moms consider weaning when there are natural transitions,” says Natasha L. Burgert, MD. She's a pediatrician in Kansas City, MO. “As baby's diet is changing and his immune protection from vaccines increases, many moms decide to cut back on their nursing.”

An important tip is to make sure you are ready for the commitment it takes to change yours and your baby’s routine. There isn’t a “normal” time to stop nursing your baby. There is only an average time. Some mothers continue to breastfeed up to a year or longer – that’s their choice. Don’t allow others to pressure you. If you try to switch and something doesn't feel right, trust your instincts.

“In my experience, moms are typically not disappointed if they are truly ready,” Burgert says. “If moms are emotionally torn about weaning, maybe it's not time.”

Breastfeeding is often a close bonding time between mothers and their infants. It doesn’t have to stop because you are switching to a bottle. It can also allow dads to experience the unique bond of feeding time.

Just because you begin using a bottle, nothing has to change in how you hold your baby. You can still hold he or she close and have skin-to-skin contact.

“Babies want to be close to you, hear your voice, be warm and snug, and get their tummies full,” Burgert says. “Both bottle and breast can equally do those things.”

If your baby expects you close at mealtimes, don't hand her a bottle, even if she's old enough to hold it.

“I suggest that she be held for all of these feedings,” Huggins says. “In this way, the baby and mother can continue to experience the close, loving bond that comes with nursing.”

Of course breastfeeding isn’t the only time for close bonding. Moms can still snuggle, cuddle and kiss their babies. None of that goes away with the introduction of a baby bottle.

Take your time when introducing the bottle. Make is a gradual transition by dropping one session every few days. Begin with a daytime feeding.

“Babies are busy playing and interacting with their environment,” Burgert says.

“Once solid feeding is going well, roll right into a bottle in the morning, rather than a nursing session.”

Once you start making the switch, ask for help from your husband or partner or other family members.

“It's best if someone else offers the bottles, so the baby associates breastfeeding with the mother,” says Laurie Beck, RN, of the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association.

It's often hardest for babies to give up bedtime nursing.

“To be successful, the routine has to change,” Beck says. You can “offer a drink from a bottle or cup and then try walking around to put the baby to sleep. Or let someone else put the baby to sleep so that they do not associate going to sleep with breastfeeding.”

While baby is adjusting to a new routine, mom’s body is also going through quite a few changes.  When you cut back on breastfeeding, your full breasts can be painful. Even when you are slowly changing over, breasts can feel very uncomfortable.

To relieve the pain try these methods:

Chill your breasts. “Ice packs help to constrict and feel good if the breasts are warm to the touch,” Beck says. You can get the same relief by putting chilled cabbage leaves in your bra. (Really!)

Remove some milk. Use a breast pump to take off some pressure. Don't pump for too long or your body will think that it should maintain its milk supply. “There's a difference between pumping 15 to 20 minutes to fully empty the breasts and removing just enough milk to make yourself comfortable,” Beck says.

Leave your breasts alone. Once you stop nursing, keep breasts off-limits to help your milk supply stop. “Avoid any breast stimulation, including forward-facing showers and sexual foreplay,” Huggins says.

There’s nothing unusual about switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, millions of women have made the same choice. They key is to be ready and to take your time.

Source: Lisa Fields, Roy Benaroch, MD,




Your Baby

Does Your Baby Spit Up A Lot?


About half of infants spit up on a regular basis, and usually it’s not an indication that there’s a medical problem. More than likely, your little one has either more food in his or her tummy than it can hold or they have taken in too much air with the breast milk or formula. 

Watching their newborn spit up frequently can be kind of scary for new parents but experts agree that for the most part, there’s nothing to worry about- it’s normal.

"Seventy percent of infants under 3 months will spit up three times a day, and it's even perfectly normal for them to be spitting up as often as 10 or 12 times," says William Byrne, MD, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, in Portland, Oregon.

The most common reason is that the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, which opens and closes to let food into the stomach, is still very weak at this age -- so it's easy for stomach contents to escape and come back up. Your baby is most likely to spit up after a feeding, but this can also happen when she cries or coughs forcefully.

By 6 months babies have mostly outgrown spitting up especially when they start eating more solid foods and sitting up.

There are things you can do to help reduce baby’s spitting up. Start by making sure you’re not overfeeding your baby. If breastfeeding, check to see if your infant is latched on correctly so that less air goes down with the milk.

If she's formula-fed, consider using a product that reduces bottle-induced gas, such as a bottle with liners that collapse as your baby sucks. If your baby is 4 months or older and your pediatrician approves, you can try thickening the formula to help it sit better in his stomach (mix in a tablespoon of rice cereal for every 4 ounces of formula).

Keep your baby in an upright position and as still as possible for at least 30 minutes following each feeding so that the food can travel out of the stomach and into the small intestine.

You can reduce spitting up by burping your baby after every 1 to 2 ounces or 5 to 10 minutes of feeding. If you don’t get a burp within a few minutes, then baby probably just doesn’t need to burp.

There are times when spitting up can indicate that there is a medical problem. It’s normal for infants to experience gastroesophageal reflux (GER), usually referred to as reflux. However, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD is different. GERD is a more serious condition that can cause a baby a lot of pain. If your baby won't eat, isn't gaining weight, is extremely irritable, suffers from forceful projectile vomiting, or develops respiratory problems from aspirating food, he may have GERD.

If your baby is having symptoms of GERD take him or her to your pediatrician for a true diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to recommend the correct treatment.

If your newborn is spitting up frequently, don’t panic- it’s normal. Just keep those washcloths and burping pads handy to protect your clothing!

Sources: Parents Magazine,

Your Baby

Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Car Seat, Swing or Bouncer


Placing an infant in a car seat, swing or bouncer as a substitute for a crib can be a fatal decision. These objects work fine when used properly for their intended purpose, but when a child is left unattended – they can quickly turn deadly according to a new study.

Using these devices as directed and not as substitutes for a crib would reduce the risk of death, according to lead author Dr. Erich K. Batra of Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“The overarching advice goes back to a more basic message of safe sleep,” Batra told Reuters Health. “In an infant, a safe sleep environment includes the ABCs: they sleep alone, not in bed between parents, on their backs, and in a crib or bassinet without any loose bedding.”

The study reviewed young children’s death in devices like car seats, swings and bouncers and found that most were due to suffocation by improper positioning or strangulation in straps.

The researchers reviewed the reports of 47 deaths of children under two years old that happened in car seats, bouncers, swings, strollers or slings and were recorded by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2004 and 2008.

The study used only reports submitted by consumers or manufacturers, so the number of deaths may actually be higher.

Most of the deaths occurred in car seats (31 of 47). Five happened in slings, four each in swings and bouncers and three in strollers.

About half of deaths in car seats were due to strangulation by the straps, while the other half were caused by suffocation due to positioning, the authors reported in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Strap strangulation usually happens when the restraints are not fastened as directed, Batra said. Whenever a child is in a car seat, the harness should be secured.

“If people leave an older infant or young toddler in a car seat and undo the straps thinking that it makes them more comfortable, that’s a significant hazard,” he said.

“A child properly secured in a car seat is in very little risk of danger,” he said.

However, many times the child falls asleep in the car seat and a parent or caregiver decides to bring the car seat, with baby still attached, into the home.

Dr. Shital N. Parikh, an orthopedic surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, has studied the risk factors for injury in these devices in infants up to age one. He also found car seats to be the most common setting.

“The commonest mechanism of injury was infants falling from car seats when not used in the car, used in the home,” Parikh told Reuters Health. Often parents would bring the car seat in the house while the infant still slept, undo the straps and place it on an elevated surface, he said.

Even four-month-old babies are mobile enough to wiggle out of the top straps and fall, or topple the whole seat from an elevated surface, he said.

“These are very simple things, very basic things,” Parikh said. “The basic idea is that you use (the devices) for their intended purpose only. For infants, you should not use it to make them sleep or carry them around if it’s not intended for that.”

Batra notes that baby in slings need to be “visible and kissable,” as a sling may put baby’s head in a hazardous position.

It only takes four to five minutes for an unattended baby to suffocate in one of these devices.

“That is one of the things we need to draw attention to,” Batra said. Sometimes a few minutes unattended is all it takes.

“If your infant is sleeping and you’re not observing them, then they need to be in a safe sleeping environment,” adhering to the ABCs, he said.

While it may seem safe to leave a baby in a car seat, swing, sling or bouncer for a few minutes unattended, go ahead and place the child in his or her crib. It may wake them up if they are sleeping, but it’s much safer than allowing them to continue to sleep in a device that was never intended for that purpose.

Source: Kathryn Doyle,

Your Baby

Danger! Lidocaine and Teething Babies

2.00 to read

If you’ve ever received a prescription for lidocaine, you might be tempted to try it on your teething baby to ease the pain. Lidocaine solution is sometimes used to reduce a child’s gag reflex during dental procedures and to treat mouth and throat ulcers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to parents about using a lidocaine solution as a pain reliever on babies’ gums, saying it can lead to death and serious injuries in infants and toddlers.

"When too much viscous lidocaine is given to infants and young children or they accidentally swallow too much, it can result in seizures, severe brain injury, and problems with the heart," the statement said.

Overdoses or accidental swallowing have led to infants and children being hospitalized or dying, the FDA said.

While the number is not high, some parents or caregivers have tried it as a gum pain reliever during teething. There have been 22 reports this year of serious complications, including deaths, in children ages 5 months to 3 to 5 years who were given lidocaine or accidently swallowed it.

The agency will require a boxed warning on the label for prescription oral viscous lidocaine 2 percent solution to highlight that it should not be used for teething pain, the FDA said in a statement.

Instead of lidocaine, the FDA urges parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatricians' (AAP) recommendations for treating teething pain. They call for using a teething ring, or gently massaging the child's gums with your finger.

Other products containing benzocaine are sometimes used for oral pain relief. The FDA recommends against using these products for children under 2 years of age except under a physician’s supervision. Like viscous lidocaine, benzocaine is a local anesthetic.

The AAP offers these tips for helping your child through the discomfort of teething.

  • Give her firm objects to chew on—teething rings or hard, unsweetened teething crackers. Frozen teething toys should not be used; extreme cold can injure your baby’s mouth and cause more discomfort.
  • If your baby is clearly uncomfortable, talk to your pediatrician about a possible course of action. Your pediatrician may suggest that you give a small dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

The first thing a parent wants to do when they see their baby in pain is to find a way to relieve the discomfort. Teething is one of those times that can be trying for everyone involved. Babies can start teething as early as 3 months.

Pain relievers that are used on a baby’s gums aren’t typically very helpful; a teething baby drools so much that the medication is quickly washed away. In addition, pediatricians warn that such medications can numb the back of the throat and interfere with your baby’s ability to swallow.

Rubbing your baby’s gums or providing a safe teething ring can help ease your infant’s pain until those pesky teeth break through and the gums heal.

Sources: Ian Simpson,

Your Baby

Obese During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Offspring


Not every time, but often, you’ll see obese couples and their kids are either obese or on the threshold of obesity. While adults have the power and the life experience to understand the health issues associated with obesity, their children – depending on their age- are reliant on on their parents making healthy choices for them.  

 Is generational obesity inherited or a case of families making poor choices where food and exercise are concerned – or both?

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine wondered if children born to obese moms might be predisposed to being obese due to their womb environment.

The team of scientists analyzed stem cells taken from the umbilical cords of babies born to normal weight and obese mothers. In the lab, they coaxed these stem cells to develop into muscle and fat. The resulting cells from obese mothers had 30% more fat than those from normal weight mothers, suggesting that these babies’ cells were more likely to accumulate fat.

No cause and effect was established, but the scientists noted that further research was needed. “The next step is to follow these offspring to see if there is a lasting change into adulthood,” says the lead presenter, Kristen Boyle, in a statement.

She and her colleagues are already studying the cells to see whether they use and store energy any differently from those obtained from normal-weight mothers, and whether those changes result in metabolic differences such as inflammation or insulin resistance, which can precede heart disease and diabetes.

Other studies have found a high correlation between parents’ Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers and their children ‘s BMI, particularly between mothers and their kids. Further, the BMI of grandmother’s and their grandchildren is also high.

What is a healthy weight gain for a pregnant woman? It depends on how much you weigh before getting pregnant.

The guidelines for pregnancy weight gain are issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM); most recently in May 2009. Here are the most current recommendations:

•       If your pre-pregnancy weight was in the healthy range for your height (a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds, gaining 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy for the optimal growth of your baby.

•       If you were underweight or your height at conception (a BMI below 18.5), you should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

•       If you were overweight for your height (a BMI of 25 to 29.9), you should gain 15 to 25 pounds. If you were obese (a BMI of 30 or higher), you should gain between 11 and 20 pounds.

•       If you're having twins, you should gain 37 to 54 pounds if you started at a healthy weight, 31 to 50 pounds if you were overweight, and 25 to 42 pounds if you were obese.

These recent findings point out again, how important it is for pregnant women to consider the possible long - term health affects on their unborn offspring when making decisions about their own health.

The report was presented in May to the American Diabetes Association.

Sources: Alice Park,


Your Baby

Abusive Head Trauma in Babies, Toddlers Can Last a Lifetime


This is going to be a hard story to read, but don’t let that stop you. It’s difficult because it involves very young children who suffer head trauma because they are abused.   Sometimes, it’s an accident. Sometimes it’s because a parent or guardian loses control and angrily shakes an infant or toddler until brain damage occurs.  While you may never intentionally abuse your own child, you should know how to recognize the symptoms of an infant or toddler that has been shaken. That knowledge could save a child’s life or improve the quality of treatment they receive.

Half of children who experience a severe abusive head trauma before the age of 5 will die before they turn 21, according to a new study.

In addition, among those who survive severe injuries, quality of life will be cut in half, the study found.

What causes such terrible consequences? According to, when a caregiver shakes and injures a child, it's sometimes called shaken baby syndrome. Abusive head trauma (AHT) and shaken baby syndrome usually refer to the same thing.

When a child's head is shaken back and forth, his brain bumps against the skull, causing bruising, swelling, pressure, and bleeding in and around the brain. The impact often causes bleeding in the retina – the light-sensitive portion of the eye that transmits images to the brain.

A child with AHT may also have a damaged spinal cord or neck as well as bone fractures. The extent of the damage depends on how long and hard the child is shaken or how severe the blow to the head is. But in just seconds, a child can suffer severe, permanent damage or even death.

In the United States, "at least 4,500 children a year suffer preventable abusive head trauma," said lead researcher Ted Miller, of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, in Calverton, Md.

Among children with any abusive head trauma, including minor cases, one in three "will not survive to adulthood, and even the survivors will lose significant quality of life," Miller said.

For the study, the researchers surveyed parents, caregivers or pediatricians of 170 youngsters who survived an abusive head trauma to determine the victims' quality of life. The head traumas all occurred before the children were 5 years old. But, most -- about eight in 10 -- experienced the head trauma before they were 1 year old.

The majority  (71%) of the cases fell into the severe impact category. Moderate impact cases accounted for 13.5 percent and there were 16 percent that were listed as minor cases. 

Injuries caused by shaking a baby or toddler can be shocking. Almost one-quarter of children required a feeding tube, and 57 percent were blind or legally blind. Among the severe cases, 86 percent of the children lost their sight or needed corrective eye surgery, the report indicated.

"This article is a devastating reminder of how serious shaken baby syndrome is and how fragile these little ones are," said Linda Spears, vice president of policy and programs at Child Welfare League of America. She said children under 5 are much more likely to die due to abuse and neglect for several reasons.

"One is fragility of their little bodies, and another is that they have less ability to protect themselves," she said. "They're also less visible in the community because they rely on the people who abuse them. They're not in school yet and not seen in the community as much as older children."

Frustration is often the cause for shaking a baby. Parents can feel overwhelmed when their infant or toddler doesn’t stop crying. Potty training time is another trigger for some parents or guardians the study notes.

Parents of small children need a support system to help them through the rough times. Without one, things can get out of hand quickly.

"Shaken baby is one of the more devastating things that happen when people don't have what they need in terms of knowledge, skills, emotional maturity, concrete services and emotional support." Spears said.

She explained that "people feel incredibly inadequate in those moments, and if you have little support and little mentoring, frustration levels can get pretty high pretty quickly because parents feel upset and angry and need to feel like they can manage the situation."

The most common signs of abusive head trauma in an infant or young child are:

•       The child is not eating or is having difficulty feeding 

•       The child’s body is rigid; stiff, not flexible or feels firmly fixed.

•       The child’s eyes are glassy looking. They show no expression.

•       The child is unable to lift their head.

•       The child’s eyes are unable to focus on an object.

•       Vomiting

•       The child is lethargic.

•       The child seems constantly irritated.

In a second study, researchers tested the accuracy of a new screening method to identify which children's injuries were most likely caused by abuse.

By assessing four specific types of injuries to almost 300 children under 3 years old, the researchers determined that the method was approximately 96 percent accurate at identifying cases that were definitely caused by abusive head trauma.

Spears said providing education and support to parents, especially younger parents, is effective at preventing abusive head trauma and other forms of abuse, but it is a matter of identifying those families and getting them the support they need.

What should you do if you suspect a baby has been shaken in this way? Miller said you should report it to law enforcement or child protective services. Parents of children who may have been shaken, he said, should take their children to the emergency room, where immediate treatment may improve their long-term outcomes.

Both studies have been published in the journal Pediatrics. The newest study is in the online November issue.

Sources: Tara Haelle,

Karen Miles,


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