Thursday, June 28, 2012


For many years in most cases that concerned shaken-baby syndrome it was the default conclusion that the person who was last to care for the child was an abuser. The SBS theory is that a characteristic set of head injuries, including swelling of the brain, bleeding around the brain and bleeding in the retinas of the eye which are otherwise explained, can be attributed to violent head shaking. Parents and other caregivers accused of such criminal conduct have claimed innocence, have asserted that they love their children and would never harm them but have often not been believed.

It has often been intimated by critics that Shaken Baby Syndrome is a virtual industry that enjoys government funding as it does in British Columbia, which encourages the Child Protection system to label caregivers as abusers when a child is in crisis. If the label ‘industry’ is deserved, then it can also be implied that it has pervaded the legal/judicial system from lawyers to judges to expert witnesses who testify for CPS against the defendants in shaken baby cases.

Such cries of innocence have birthed websites and blog sites that have questioned how SBS is defined. Among those is The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic that fights for the rights of people who have been wrongly accused of a crime. The medical community knows that there is increasing skepticism about the certainty of this diagnosis and certainly the judicial system had better know it soon. A shift in mainstream medical opinion has been occurring and a growing number of doctors contend that the syndrome has alternate explanations. Medical Professionals are now admitting that other things could explain the subdural bleeding, retinal hemorrhaging and brain swelling, and that there is new research that also throws doubt on the timing of the injury. The triad of symptoms cannot any longer prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an infant has been dangerously, or even fatally shaken. It is no longer as matter of fact as it once seemed to be and that is causing strong debate. A developing chorus of critics says the entire theory rests on an uncertain scientific footing that continues to erode under the weight of scientific scrutiny, raising the possibility that hundreds if not thousands of innocent people – parents, grandparents, baby sitters, nannies, boyfriends – have faced criminal charges and even been imprisoned in the past three decades for crimes they may not have committed. In some fortunate cases people who were previously incarcerated for this abuse have subsequently been exonerated but it has taken far too long and to much personal damage has resulted. It is critical that CPS, attorneys, prosecutors, judges and juries become honest about the manner in which these cases are handled.

Probably the website with the most comprehensive digest of Shaken Baby cases, false accusations, exonerations, alternate medical explanations for SBS theory and much more is one known as Medical Misdiagnosis Research. Lay people and professionals alike will find view shaping and changing material from a wide range of scientists, health professionals, researchers and journalists on this site.

1 comment:

  1. Here in Ontario there have been many cases where parents and others were wrongly convicted and jailed(even for YRS!) and lost their other kids, wrongly accused of shaken baby syndrome and other things that caused their babies and children's deaths. It turned out that the pathologist, Dr. Charles Smith, had gravely erred over all those YRS, wrongly testifying autopsy results.He has since lost his license and families are starting to be vindicated and their names cleared but nothing will ever "make up" for their loss.


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