Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)


False allegations of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) are common in Michigan. Imagine being in a hospital with your son or daughter, desperately seeking the help of the medical staff when it suddenly dawns on you that you are being accused of Abusive Head Trauma. Many parents find themselves in that situation. Often the story starts with seizure like activity, vomiting, lethargy or changes in pallor. Parents anxiously wait to learn what the doctors can do to help their baby. The situation changes when CPS shows up or the Child Abuse Pediatrician is consulted. If you are facing this situation, you need immediate help. If you need to speak with one of our expert Shaken Baby Syndrome Defense Lawyers, you may contact us online or call (800) 576-6035.

Michigan Shaken Baby Defense Lawyer

 

Although the term "Shaken Baby Syndrome" has been abandoned by many medical doctors as the concept has been challenged in courts around the country, the theories behind the "syndrome" have never left the mindset of the mainstream child protection community.  Today, it is far more likely that a more modern diagnosis will makes its way to the medical records, such as:

  • Child abuse
  • Non-Accidental Injury (NAI)
  • Intentionally Inflicted Trauma
  • Abusive Head Trauma (AHT)

Much of the terminology change has been the direct result of court challenges to the scientific basis for the SBS literature.  The response from the medical community has been to alter the dialogue without ever really changing the underlying premises behind the SBS theories. However, there still remains one overriding exception, courtroom testimony from Child Abuse Pediatricians has changed significantly.

 

The first thing you need to understand about an SBS allegation is that you should not face it alone.  Most parents accused of SBS and AHT are poor and don't have resources to defend against a false allegations. Many loose their parental rights or go to prison for long periods of time. You must do what you need to do to get help from a competent child abuse attorney who can handle a SBS case.  In Michigan, you can contact us.  Outside of Michigan, we suggest you contact the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center for a referral.


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Michigan Shaken Baby Investigations

 

In many ways, the idea that there will actually be an investigation is a misnomer.  To understand this, some brief history of SBS theory is helpful.  In the early days of the Shaken Baby Syndrome phenomenon, an SBS diagnosis required three elements, known as the triad:

  • subdural hematoma
  • brain injury
  • retinal hemorrhage

It was generally believed that this "constellation" of symptoms was "diagnostic" of SBS absent an explanation of some high intensity trauma such as a high speed motor vehicle accident or fall from a third story window.

 

Although medical doctors, the American Academy of Pediatricians and prosecutors have retreated in some ways from this position, the retreat has not been helpful to parents who are falsely accused.  This is mostly because of the changing theories (substantially unsupported by scientific evidence) of the mechanism of injury.

 

In order to bolster their testimony, doctors have shied away from the notion that they can provide the specific etiology of shaking as a mechanism of injury.  Instead the current list of possible causes typically includes the following:

  • High speed motor vehicle accident
  • Fall to a hard surface from a high window
  • Repetitive shaking
  • Shaking plus impact on a hard surface
  • Repetitive slamming into a soft surface (bed or pillow)

As you might quickly understand, most parents in a hospital setting will quickly rule out the first two.  In the absence of those explanations, Abusive Head Trauma is likely to be the diagnosis. Doctors have become very comfortable at offering an opinion that they don't really know what happened, it must be shaking or impact on a hard or soft surface.  The somewhat recent addition of the soft surface impact was really speculation by doctors trying to explain why children present with "triad" medical problems but have no swelling or bruising.

 

Every ATH or SBS "diagnosis" must be built around a patient history provided by parents or caretakers.  However, the "investigation" often starts with a conclusion.  The conclusion is that the only explanations from the history that will explain the medical findings are those mentioned above.  The purpose, then, of obtaining a history is to rule out the motor vehicle accident and the hard surface impact after a fall from a three story window.  Once the parents acknowledge that these events did not occur, every thing else they say is categorized as a parental explanation which does not explain the injury and must be a lie.

Retinal Hemorrhages and Shaken Baby

 

Today, Child Abuse Pediatrician is not at all stuck on the classic triad.  Many are willing to diagnose Abusive Head Trauma with no brain swelling or injury detected.  Many are also suspected to be willing to diagnose abuse based on retinal hemorrhages alone.  This is an ominous development because the understanding of the causes of retinal hemorrhages is not very advanced and new information is regularly changing the established beliefs.  Generally, there are doctors who believe that there are certain findings which can be diagnostic of abuse, such as:

  • Bi-lateral hemorrhages (both eyes)
  • Sub-retinal hemorrhages (meaning in the deep layers of the retina)
  • Hemorrhages which extend to the periphery (or reach the Ora Serrata)
  • Hemorrhages which are too numerous to count

Michigan SBS Defense Attorneys

 

The solution to a false allegation is a good defense.  If you find yourself accused of Abusive Head Trauma, Intentionally Inflicted Injury, Shaken Baby Syndrome or any of the other varieties of child abuse that are suggested when there is an unexplained injury, you will need the assistance of a professional Michigan child abuse lawyer.  Kronzek & Cronkright attorneys have been defending child injury cases for many years and have helped parents through seemingly hopeless situations.  When your parental rights are at stake, you cannot afford to be defended by an attorney who is not prepared, does not know how to defend you, or won't stand up for you in court.  Our expert attorneys offer fully confidential consultations to those interested in hiring a child abuse defense attorney.


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