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Identifying Shaken Baby Syndrome

Signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome may vary from mild to severe. The onset of symptoms is immediate; however, in many cases there is no external sign of injury.


Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome that you may see:

  • Lack of energy, sluggish

  • Extreme irritability, annoyed, impatient

  • Inability to suck or swallow

  • Decreased appetite, not feeding like usual

  • Vomiting, more than just spitting up after eating

  • Difficulty breathing or short shallow breaths

  • Rigidity or posturing, including abnormal bending of the arms, clenched fists, extended legs, severe arching of the back, or head thrown backwards

  • Inability of eyes to focus or unequal size of pupils

  • Seizures, may lose consciousness and experience convulsions

  • Coma, deep and prolonged unconsciousness



Injuries your pediatrician may find:

  • Intracranial bleeding, bleeding within the skull

  • Cerebral edema, excess accumulation of water in brain

  • Retinal hemorrhages, bleeding of blood vessels in the retina or membrane in the back of the eye

  • Rib fractures, break or fracture in one or more of the bones making up the rib cage

  • Fractures of long bones, break or fracture in the femur, tibia, or other long bones

  • Skull fractures, break or fracture in the skull



Long-term effects may include:

  • Severe brain injury or damage

  • Learning disabilities and/or behavior disorders

  • Impaired motor or cognitive skills

  • Visual impairment or any kind of vision loss

  • Paralysis or loss of muscle function for one or more muscle groups

  • Seizure disorder, where the brain’s activity is periodically disturbed and it results in some degree of temporary brain dysfunction

  • Death



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