SBS – based on a diagnostic triad of symptoms
Shaking an infant is a reprehensible action. We commend and support every effort to reduce the risks to children by caregivers who do not know how to understand the baby’s needs or cope with a baby’s cries and behaviour.
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a medical diagnosis based on the presence of a diagnostic triad: (1) retinal bleeding, (2) bleeding in the protective layer of the brain, and (3) brain swelling. Baby B had at least two of these. She was a sick baby girl. A well informed doctor when faced with an injured child with no evidence of physical abuse other than the triad of SBS symptoms will consider it his/her duty to be cautious for the sake of both the child and the parents. A respected pediatrician from Vancouver Children’s Hospital diagnosed Baby B as a Shaken Baby. (Possibly Baby B did not have the third factor of the triad - brain swelling. Her head did swell six centimeters prior to a delayed CT scan, yet in court Dr. Colbourne herself said Baby B's actual brain was not swollen. Baby B had a build up of blood and spinal fluid due to a three week delay which caused her head to grow, but the brain swelling itself is negligible.)
Presently, reporting regulations require that when retinal hemorrhages and subdural hematomas are discovered in a child, the child is immediately referred to protective services. A mitigating factor must be a believable story from the parent or care giver. If the story cannot be corroborated and if it is merely a story about a household mishap rather than a motor vehicle accident or something similarly unfortunate, SBS is the assumed assessment. Reports appear to indicate that little or no consideration was given to her premature birth and the bone fragility and chemical deficiencies consequent to that. (Bethany was born early at 34 weeks resulting in some bone deficiency. Upon birth she had feeding challenges, nutritionally anemic with concern about Vitamin D deficiency, losing some weight and being fed by a tube and needing to stay in hospital for two weeks prior to release.)
Typically, charges will not be laid if the story is supported by a credible witness or two. If that story is not convincing, then the SBS diagnosis is applied and the caregiver is put under suspicion and possibly charged. A Shaken Baby has to have a shaker, and the immediate question is who would be the most likely shaker? One or both of the parents, perhaps. The child will not receive further testing for alternative causes.
With that background data it was reasonable that the Bayne children were taken from the parents in order to protect the children. The Ministry discounted the Bayne’s story of an accidental fall of one child on to their baby girl. The accident scenario was reported and recorded in medical records at various hospitals and clinics over three weeks following the accident. A later CT scan of Baby B's head confirmed internal bruising precisely at the spot on her head which Zabeth had identified as the area of contact between brother and sister. The attendant physician verified that this bruise was consistent with a contusion at that head location.
That was then. Zabeth and Paul must have looked alarmed and frantic while being subjected to interrogation, arrest, criminal charge and, fingerprinting. Then the charges were dropped and RCMP extended a wish of ‘good luck.’ You don’t put on your best face during a crisis like that. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) was inundated with letters speaking to the parents’ character, integrity and reliability. Would those references be enough to counter the unexplained head trauma? Not at all. A primary social worker said in court that he had not read them.
• MCFD pursued an unsubstantiated allegation, let’s call it a suspicion that Baynes shook their baby girl.
• SBS is unproven among biomechanic specialists and pathologists as a valid scientific finding.
• The SBS diagnosis of a Child Protection doctor who examined baby Bayne was challenged by ten prominent medical experts who communicated with the Baynes and whose reports were filed with the MCFD and its lawyer.
• The validity of SBS Shaken Baby Syndrome is being questioned in courts internationally.
• Some courts are banning the use of SBS as a prosecutorial cause and are overturning previous convictions.
• MCFD treatment of Paul and Zabeth appears to demonstrate an intention to permanently remove the Bayne children from their birth parents.
The reliability of an SBS diagnosis however, has become progressively more doubtful as research has increased. In the early 2000’s SBS skeptics emerged particularly with regard to SBS’s legitimacy as a diagnosis when used within the court for prosecution purposes and the number of skeptics has created into a reform movement in the United States and in Canada.
How prolific must misdiagnoses be in North America that innocent people and advocates for innocent people feel compelled to create an entire defence program and a website to assist one another to overcome invasive assaults by government children’s’ agencies. While ostensibly created to protect children, in more cases than any of us desire to know, such agencies through ill advised decisions have destroyed entire families and squander children’s’ futures because the right decisions were not made.
Here is a website called Shaken Baby Syndrome Defense. It wouldn’t exist apart from the appalling quantity of parents and caregivers who have been suspected, charged, convicted and sentenced wrongfully for shaking a baby, when in fact the physical symptoms being flagged have been misdiagnosed.