Research Confirms Violence Linked to Shaking Infants

In abusive head trauma cases, shaking is usually repeated; impact is uncommon
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Cases of infants referred for abusive head trauma (AHT) are usually, if not always, associated with extremely violent shaking, and shaking is repeated in more than half of cases, according to research published online Aug. 9 in Pediatrics.

Catherine Adamsbaum, M.D., of Paris Descartes University, and colleagues examined forensic evidence from 112 cases of AHT in infants. The cases included 29 in which the perpetrator confessed to being violent toward the child, and 83 cases with no confession. All the infants had subdural hematoma on computed tomography.

The researchers found no significant differences between the groups for any of the studied variables. In all the cases, shaking was described as extremely violent and was repeated in 55 percent of cases (between two and 30 times) -- in 62.5 percent of cases because it stops the infant from crying and the infant "goes to sleep after being shaken." Impact was found in only 24 percent of cases. The researchers found no correlation between repeated shaking and subdural hematoma densities.

"This unique forensic case series confirms the violence of shaking. The high frequency of habitual AHT is a strong argument for reporting suspected cases to judicial authorities and helps to explain the difficulty in dating the injuries," the authors write.

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