The underlying intention is usually to try to calm a crying child – If the baby screams for hours and cannot be reassured by anything, the excessive demands on the parents is understandable. The shaking of the baby for alleged calming, however, is not a solution!
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Definition shaking trauma
From a medical perspective, the term shaking trauma refers to the severe forms of brain damage that can result from violent shaking in a baby. The baby is held tight to the upper body and shaken violently back and forth. The underlying intent is usually the attendant’s attempt to calm a screaming child.
Regarding forensic medicine, shaking trauma is associated with child maltreatment and is considered a serious form of child well-being injury.
The shaking of an infant or toddler is an act of massive physical violence and accordingly a criminal offense.
Consequences for the baby
The secondary damage to the child depends on the intensity, the duration and the frequency of the shaking. The symptoms range from the physical level of pain, paralysis, vomiting and cardiac arrhythmia to massive neurological brain damage.
Significant physical disability and long-term damage in the form of a delayed overall development, speech disorders, visual field limitations or respiratory center complaints are common. Above all, the problem is that the immediate consequences are initially not visible externally, but can lead to the death of the child.
In psychological terms, the emotional development of the child is particularly impaired. It develops fears, limitations in basic trust, becomes frightening, insecure and mentally unstable.
Recognizing a shaking trauma
The diagnosis by a doctor is often difficult because the symptoms can also point to other diseases.
However, some features point to force, especially if the shaking is not too long ago. Frequently, hematomas can be detected on the upper body and on the arms, which are the result of massive adherence. Broken bones or repetitive injuries can also alert a doctor.
An accurate diagnosis is usually only possible by CT (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance tomography). In these imaging procedures, injuries in the brain region that are typical of shaking trauma are easy to recognize.
Treatment options in the child
Treatment depends heavily on the symptoms found and the severity of the injuries. Usually, the baby is taken to a hospital and observed there for at least 24 hours. The injuries are taken care of. In addition to the visible damage, the use of force can also cause disturbances which only appear in hindsight. These include, for example, an oxygen deficiency or epilepsy.
In addition to a possible drug treatment, supportive measures are often necessary, especially in case of damage to the language center. The therapeutic measures are necessary to treat possible disorders of speech development or speech perception and processing.
Causes of shaking
The reasons for the shaking are primarily due to a massive overload of the caregiver. Mostly the baby’s previous screaming leads to massive stress in the parents. They are unable to reassure their child in a different way and to react in peace. The continuous screaming is perceived as grueling and accordingly leads to significant stress reactions in the parent.
The most important criterion is the recognition and acceptance of the own excessive demands on the one hand and the unconditional protection of the baby on the other hand. It is no shame to be overwhelmed and to seek assistance. A crying baby for a long time can cause a lot of stress and bring affected parents to their limits.
It is helpful to develop strategies in advance so that you do not lose your nerve in reactions. A social network in the immediate vicinity, which can be reached quickly in an emergency and can be on hand, is ideal in this case. Those who can not fall back on such support will find a hearing aid and help for the individual situation in a writing baby ambulance. An appointment with your pediatrician and a local openness about the personal situation can contribute to the relief.
In all, the best interests of the child are paramount. It may be vital to breaking the situation where there is a risk of shaking the baby out of overwork. In an emergency, it is better to put the child safely in his bed and leave the room for a few minutes to calm himself rather than harm him.
Although this is not enough in the acute situation, the call to the pediatric emergency service under the number Tel. 01805/191212 is a recommendation.
TIPS FROM MIDWIFE INA ELMER
- Let yourself be relieved in the puerperium. Delegate household activities in the childbed, get vouchers for cleaning, cooking, etc. give
- If necessary, the health insurance in the puerperium also paid a home help
TIPS FROM CHILD THERAPIST NICOLE ULRICH
- The saying “It takes a whole village to bring up a child,” agrees. So build up a helper network
- Screaming clinics are the right places to go
- Overloading is no shame, the crying of a baby is enormous, but it only has that expression. Parents also have to learn what screaming means
- Talk to your child and “digest” the unfamiliar world for the baby, because not always is it hungry, but also other things that can torment it
- Clarify if there are organic causes that make your baby cry