When a child who is not sick suddenly dies, there may be few people more traumatized than the parents and caregivers. Often, however, the parents or caregivers become the center of a criminal investigation into the cause of the child’s death. Public outrage is certain when the evidence suggests shaken baby syndrome.
If fingers are pointing at you because a child in your care died or suffered injuries because of SBS, you may be justifiably worried about your future. Whether you are the parent, stepparent, babysitter or other guardian, you may feel you have few options in the face of the evidence.
What is shaken baby syndrome?
For decades, doctors and scientists have diagnosed children with SBS when they come to the hospital with certain symptoms. Doctors concluded that these symptoms could only result from someone shaking the child violently or throwing the child against a wall or other object. As you know, babies’ necks are weak, so their oversized heads jerk back and forth under such conditions, rupturing blood vessels, tearing nerve tissue and causing bleeding or swelling in the brain.
Doctors who suspect SBS look for three specific symptoms:
- Pooling of blood on the brain, known as a subdural hematoma
- Bleeding in the retinas
- Swelling in the brain
Children suffering from such trauma die 25 percent of the time. Another 80 percent of children survive the trauma with permanent disabilities.
Doctors pull back from SBS diagnoses
In the U.S., doctors see about 1,300 cases of SBS each year. However, many doctors and researchers are beginning to question the assumption that the triad of symptoms confirming SBS is exclusive to child abuse. As you can imagine, the opinions of these doctors are not well-received because their testimony in court has swayed verdicts in favor of the accused. In fact, it may shock you to learn that some physicians have lost their licenses for defending people accused of shaking a child.
You may be wondering what explanation these doctors offer for the traumatic injuries the children suffered. In fact, there is a theory that the symptoms attributed to SBS may occur from a child’s reaction to certain components in vaccines. Additionally, some pre-existing medical conditions may cause brain bleeds and similar symptoms in children.
Perpetuating the SBS myth
The problem facing many who are in your situation is that you may have a choice between facing a jury who will hear expert testimony about SBS or pleading guilty and accepting a deal. In the past, so many in similar circumstances accepted the deal that they left behind a history of evidence that SBS caused the triad of symptoms.
The tragic death or injury of a child may be overwhelming. However, your wrongful conviction for child abuse only compounds the tragedy. Under such pressure, you could certainly benefit from the advocacy of a Colorado attorney who will address the possibility of alternative reasons for the child’s injuries and protect your rights in the process.