Background: The purpose of this study is to review the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome: what it is, different mechanisms of injury, how it is diagnosed, what the differential diagnoses are and the prognosis.
Methods: A literary study based on a selection of articles from the use of the following search words in Pubmed: shaken baby syndrome, shaken impact syndrome, non-accidental head injuries and abusive head trauma.
Results: Shaken baby syndrome is when a small child is shaken vigorously resulting in subdural hemorrhages, retinal hemorrhages and brain injury. There may be additional injuries present. The mechanism of injury is not fully understood and is subject to great debate. The main issue is whether shaking alone is sufficient to produce severe brain injury. The diagnosis is made on the basis of medical history, clinical and forensic findings and imaging techniques. There are many differential diagnoses and all must be excluded before diagnosing shaken baby syndrome. 7-30 % die, 30-50 % sustain significant cognitive and neurological deficits and 30 % have a full recovery.
Conclusions: There is need for more research to determine the mechanism of injury with certainty.