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Health Consultants For Child Care

Enhancing Health, Safety & Learning for Minnesota Child Care Providers since 1993

There are a wide range of signs and symptoms of AHT that can look like other disease process resulting in a missed diagnosis of AHT.  Mild symptoms of AHT are very much like those of infant colic, feeding problems and fussiness.  The consequences of less severe causes may not be brought to the attention of individual professionals and may never be diagnosed.

Other symptoms can include vomiting with lethargy or drowsiness, respiratory difficulties, coma, or death.  Usual reports are the child stopped breathing, went to sleep and could not be aroused, was dropped or rolled off something.  Most shaken baby/child injuries include one or more of the following: 

  • Subdural hematoma – bleeding around or in the brain (from torn blood vessels that feed the brain),
  • Cerebral edema – massive brain swelling (from the blood pooling within the skull),
  • Retinal hemorrhages – bleeding behind the eye.

CT or MRI scans; eye examination and X-rays make a confirmed diagnosis of AHT.  When someone shakes a baby/child, the most important step is to seek medical care right away.  If the brain is damaged or is bleeding inside from severe shaking it will only get worse without treatment.

Reference: National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome