Rough and tumble play vs shaken baby syndrome
It’s fun to watch parents tickling, tossing and tumbling with their kids. It makes everyone smile. There usually is lots of laughter and cries for “More, Daddy, MORE!” It reminds me of my childhood or when my own kids were small and I just love the memories. This kind of roughhousing usually is safe, as long as the adults involved are mindful of the age of the child and his or her physical strengths. While accidents can happen, it’s not the same as shaken baby syndrome.
Shaken baby syndrome is an abusive head trauma caused by violently shaking a baby, usually to get it to stop crying. A baby has a large, heavy head and weak neck muscles. According to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH), shaking makes the fragile brain bounce back and forth inside the skull and causes bruising, swelling, and bleeding, which can lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death. The most common injuries of shaken baby syndrome are subdural hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain), retinal hemorrhages (bleeding in the retina), damage to the spinal cord and neck, and fractures of the ribs and bones. These injuries may not be immediately noticeable. Symptoms of shaken baby syndrome include extreme irritability, lethargy, poor feeding, breathing problems, convulsions, vomiting, and pale or bluish skin. The NIH reports that shaken baby injuries usually occur in children younger than 2 years old, but may be seen in children up to the age of 5.
In comparison with accidental traumatic brain injury in infants, shaken baby injuries have much poorer outcomes. Blindness can occur from damage to the retina of the eye. The majority of infants who survive severe shaking will have some form of neurological or mental disability, such as cerebral palsy or mental retardation, which may not be fully apparent before 6 years of age. Children with shaken baby syndrome may require lifelong medical care.
Love your kids and roll around, tickle, toss and tumble. Don’t ever, ever shake them.