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Shaken Baby Syndrome Program  

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is the term used to describe the signs and symptoms resulting from a child being shaken.  Shaking a baby is dangerous because:

  •  A baby's head is large and heavy in proportion to the baby's body.
  • There is space between the brain and skull to allow for growth and development.
  • The baby's neck muscles are not yet developed.         

Violently shaking a baby or young child forces the head to whip back and forth, causing blood vessels in the brain and eyes to rip and bleed.  In addition, this motion causes the brain to move and bounce against the skull which can cause brain damage. Shaking a baby can cause:

  • blindness 
  • broken bones
  • cerebral palsy 
  • death 
  • hearing loss 
  • mental retardation
  • paralysis 
  • seizures
  • speech or learning difficulties  

Shaken Baby Syndrome PA Legislation

Act No. 2002 - 176, Shaken Baby Syndrome Education and Prevention Program signed in December 2002.

The Act requires hospitals to: 

  • provide parents educational materials on SBS free of charge
  • present parents with a voluntarily commitment statement indicating that they have received the educational materials

Shaken Baby Syndrome Facts

  • In the United States, the yearly rate of SBS is between 750 and 3,750 infants.
  • One third of the victims of SBS survive with few or no consequences, one third of the victims suffer permanent injury and one third of the victims die.
  • Most victims are under one year of age.
  • Most SBS victims are male.
  • SBS most often occurs when an adult is frustrated and angry because the baby won't stop crying.
  • Toilet training difficulties and feeding problems can also lead to SBS.            

(This information compiled from:  PA Act 176 of 2002, The Pennsylvania Shaken Baby Syndrome Education Program, the Brain Injury Association of America, the New York Department of Health, and The Arc.)   

Shaken Baby Syndrome Commitment Statement

Shaken Baby Syndrome Brochure

Shaken Baby Syndrome Fact Sheet

Additional Resources 

  • ChildLine: 1-800-932-0313
    A 24 hour hotline available to receive reports of suspected child abuse
  • Early Intervention:  1-800-692-7288
    CONNECT Information and Referral

Contact Information 

Bureau of Family Health    
Division of Community Systems Development and Outreach
Shaken Baby Syndrome Education Program    
625 Forster St.
Health and Welfare Building
Seventh Floor, East Wing
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-0701