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The shaken baby syndrome facts and statistics on this page will give you a better understanding of the nature and scope of the problem, including how common it is and the perpetrators involved.

Statistics on the prevalence of shaken baby syndrome

  1. Official numbers are hard to come by, but since the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome launched a victim database in 1998 by cobbling together information from news reports, at least 3,286 victims in the S. were identified over the next ten years. (Newman, 2008)
  1. One study found rates of shaken baby syndrome had more than doubled since the Great Recession, from a median of 4.8 cases per month at each of 4 different hospitals in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Columbus, Ohio; to 9.3 per month since the recession. “We had a high bar,” says study co-author Philip Scribano, medical director of the Center for Child & Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, “so if anything, we have underestimated the true burden of the problem.” Two-thirds of the children were admitted into intensive care, and 16% died from their injuries. Two-thirds of the victims were under the age of 1, and nearly 90% of the children were covered by Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor. (Szabo, 5-3-2010)
  1. Overall it’s estimated that 1,200 to 1,400 children are injured or killed by shaking every year in the S.
  1. Shaken baby syndrome and/or abusive head trauma occurs in approximately 21 to 32.2 infants per 100,000. (Bradowski et al., 2008)


Other facts & statistics on shaken baby syndrome

  1. One study of 72 child abuse deaths found that the largest number of deaths were attributable to shaken baby syndrome, suggesting it’s the leading cause of death from child abuse. Most cases occurred in response to infant crying. (Szabo, 7-27-2009)
  1. Shaken baby syndrome kills anywhere from 15% to 35% of its victims. In addition to this, around half of the survivors will suffer some type of brain damage, often severe. (Newman, 2008)
  1. For every baby who dies from being shaken, seven or eight suffer brain damage, blindness or other injuries. (Szabo, 7-27-2009)
  1. One study found that more than 70% of perpetrators are male, even though women usually spend more time with infants. (ibid)
  1. Another analysis found the following breakdown in terms of perpetrators:
  • Father of infant: 537
  • Child care provider: 232
  • Boyfriend of victim’s mother: 202
  • Mother of victim: 114
  • Babysitter age 12-18: 13
  • Other (too numerous to mention: 172 (Newman, 2008)
  1. For some reason boy babies are more likely to be shaken than girls. Of the 2,842 cases where gender was known, 782 were female and 2060 were male. (ibid)

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