Richard L. Lougee
The Shaken Baby Triad: A Syndrome Without A Science
“Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies” -Nietzsche
Since the early 1970’s following an article by Dr. John Caffey, staff in virtually every emergency room in North America and Europe have uncritically accepted the Shaken Baby Syndrome as a reliable diagnosis. Whenever a child is brought to the hospital with “the triad” - a subdural hematoma, retinal hemorrhages and encephalitis - there is a presumption that someone violently shook the child. The “someone” is usually the last person to care for the child and if he cannot prove the symptoms to be the result of a serious car accident or an accidental long-distance fall (3 to 4 stories), he will be charged with causing the child’s injuries. Charged with serious child abuse, he will face a long mandatory prison sentence if convicted. If the child dies, he faces life in prison or even the death penalty.
What makes the Shaken Baby Syndrome so pernicious are two things:
- The mistaken belief by the majority of those treating children in the medical community that no other conditions can mimic the SBS symptoms; and,
- The unwillingness of those in the child saving industry to accept the irrefutable science and research that shows the syndrome is flawed and unreliable.
Having put hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent individuals in prison since 1972, pediatricians, pediatric radiologists, and forensic examiners are simply unable to admit they have been wrong about the Shaken Baby Syndrome. Confronted with studies such as one from Sweden (written in part by two Nobel laureates) that concluded “there is limited scientific evidence that the triad and therefore its components can be associated with traumatic shaking,” (link) the child saving industry simply decided retinal hemorrhaging was enough to diagnose abuse and changed the name of the diagnosis from Shaken Baby to Abuse Head Trauma. However, in reality, in its new package and renamed, the Shaken Baby Syndrome is still being used by prosecutors around the country to charge innocent individuals who can’t explain their children’s symptoms.
If you or someone in your family is being accused of injuring your child by shaking, immediately contact an attorney who understands you will be dealing with people committed more to a religious belief than to sound medicine. And do not, repeat DO NOT, admit under any circumstances you shook the child even gently. Every effort will be made by those questioning you to have you admit your child was fussy and that you innocently and gently shook the child. Once the prosecutor has an admission to a mild shaking, his experts at trial will transform this innocent event into a maniacal shaking causing force equal to a fall from a 4- story building. This is the script in Shaken Baby Cases and it is repeated over and over in courts all across this country. Get a lawyer who understands these cases the moment you sense the emergency room nurse or pediatric radiologist intimates you caused the child’s injuries.