Shake Baby, Shake.

Did you know that many people are prosecuted every year for a “Crime” that Science says could not possibly exist?

Shaken Baby Syndrome is junk science, not my opinion, scientific fact. A recent study of doctors found that most doctors believe that if you shake a baby, some claim only 1 shake, that this causes a “constellation” of Head Injuries known as Shaken Baby Syndrome.  Most doctors are wrong. The specific “injuries” are known as the “Triad”, specifically;

  1. Subdural Bleeding. This is a specific type of bleeding in a specific area of the brain. “Sub” refers to under and “Dural” refers to the Dura Mater, one of 3 layers that surround the brain. Between the brain and the Dura Mater there are veins known as “Bridging Veins” which collect blood from the brain. The theory being that back-and-forth movement causes “shearing” of some of these veins and leads to diffused bleeding.
  2. Axonal Injury. This is a very specific injury which affects Axons within the brain.
  3.  Retinal Bleeding. The Retina of the eye, the “screen” on which light is focused on, has a rich blood supply. How exactly the retinal bleeding occurs during shaking has never been explained in the hundreds of medical papers written on the topic. There have been no human experiments of eyes being shaken and a specific pattern occurring. Retinal injury and detachment is fairly common in head injuries where the head, and eye, were subject to falls or where a “sudden stop” (Acceleration/Deceleration) of the eye occurred.

In many SBS cases, there is often 10 or 20 significant signs and symptoms, but often many of these are ignored as doctors focus on the Triad and if these 3 signs are present, they jump to a conclusion of Child Abuse in every case.

If you forget about the Science for a moment and look at prosecution cases, it’s interesting to note that nobody has ever been caught red-handed shaking a baby to death, or near death. Every single prosecution has been based on doctors testimony that the Triad was present. Every prosecution has relied on the fact that the caregiver was alone with the baby for even a few seconds. Once the Triad is diagnosed, Police interrogate the caregiver and Police claim that the only way these 3 signs can occur is shaking, which is factually incorrect.

Many babies have been seen on video being violently shaken, usually on nannycams or surveillance video in businesses and hospitals. None of these babies have ever had a single sign of the Triad, although there are documented cases of neck injury and sometimes bruises. On this basis alone, how could intelligent people believe an unproven hypothesis? It is virtually impossible to prove or disprove that something did not happen, you cant prove or disprove a negative or something that doesn’t exist. Leaving the science aside, what are the chances that babies who have been shaken have no Triad injuries, but where nobody witnessed the incident, it must be a violent attack?

It gets worse, in many prosecutions there are very rarely any injuries on these children, no fractured bones and hardly ever a bruise? How do you violently shake a baby? You would need to grip them very firmly, probably to the point you would leave thumb prints on the chest and finger bruises on the back? If you are going to cause brain damage, you need to exert force. Babies are fairly robust, with the exception of their necks before age 6 months, you can pick them up and rock them, which if you did to an adult, you would likely cause injury.  Look up “Baby Yoga” on YouTube and see babies being thrown around, which I wouldn’t recommend, but none of these babies are ever injured. And yet doctors believe “One Shake Theory”?

When you actually get down to the Science, experiments performed by Dr John Lloyd, a Biomechanist, performed experiments on Biofedelic Mannequins which prove beyond all scientific doubt that shaking alone cannot produce the Triad. Nobody is ever going to shake a healthy baby to see if he/she dies. The original hypothesisis of SBS was never even proven or disproven. The original hypothesist Dr Norman Gutkelch merely suggested that shaking be studied as a possible mechanism for the Triad. Others built on his theory and included a study in the 1940’s where adult monkeys were purposely “rammed” back and forth until they died and this flawed experiment became the basis for Shaken Baby Syndrome.

In a way, Dr Gutkelch’s suspicions made sense. For years babies died with the Triad, and nobody knew why, these death were written off as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which isn’t an actual cause of death, it’s just a label they apply when they don’t know the cause of death. But Dr Norman never said that if you shake a baby it causes the Triad, he merely suggested it as a possible cause for further study. The only actual studies have been Biomechanical Studies, and each one proved that shaking doesn’t cause the Triad. SBS has never been anything more than a hypothesis. In fact for years Dr Gutkelch spent much of his time defending families accused of SBS, right up until he died in 2016 at the age of 100 years. He said many times that he wished he had never suggested it.

You cant experiment on babies, it would be highly unethical. But funnily enough, the Dr Lloyd study does include some interesting data on a live baby (his son Kieran), who was playing in his Fisher Price Jumperoo while Dad was watching him. Dad placed sensors on Kieran’s head and baby thrashed about, for hours apparently in his Jumperoo. The data showed that a baby “shaking” himself, can produce the same amount of force of Acceleration as a Biofedelic Mannequin being violently shaken by an athletic male, a whole football team actually. Interestingly, this is the only ever Human Study of shaking a baby.

Biomechanics is the Science of how forces act on the human body. No Physician is qualified to testify in court on whether an injury occurred or did not occur as a result of mechanical forces on the body. It is a highly specialized field which incorporates Engineering with Medicine. We wouldn’t let Doctors do Transportation Studies as they are simply not trained or qualified. Crash Test Dummies, or by their proper title, Biofedelic Mannequins, are specially designed by teams of experts and are about as “Real” as you can get.

Some proponents of SBS have tried to undermine Biomechanical Studies and write-off mannequins as “Rubber Dolls”. Biomechanics is the only scientific method of reliably making cars and transportation far safer that ever. New studies of football and motorcycle helmets are throwing out everything we ever believed about the safety of helmet. New evidence suggests that helmets may actually cause more injury, especially to the neck, and physicians are very worried that Biomechanists are disproving many widely held beliefs about the brain. This is a topic for another blogger, but I would strongly suggest that anyone concerned with contact sports or who uses helmets, to study on the latest research.

What the Biomechanical studies also showed, is that short falls can produce 12 times more force than the most vigorous shaking. This is where it gets particularly disturbing.

There are many documented cases now of doctors killing babies and accusing innocent caregivers.

The data clearly shows that a baby falling from a changing table height, can produce enough force within the brain to disrupt the Bridging Veins of the Dura Mater. Falls from a bed or a couch onto a hard surface from as little as 18 inches, can produce 12 times more acceleration than the most violent shaking.

And yet, the unproven dogma of SBS denies that short falls are harmful. You would think, just to err on the side of caution, that doctors would be strongly advising parents never to place babies, even ones too young to move themselves, on a couch or a bed or leave them unattended? The dogma believes that shaking produces the equivalent force as a fall from a 3 storey building. No evidence of this particular hypothesis has ever been produced, but this is what doctors believe. This is what they are taught in Medical School, and most doctors don’t keep current with science, especially with Biomechanical Science which is dispelling many myths they learned years ago in school. When anxious parent rush their baby who has fallen from a couch or bed, they are dismissed by doctors; “don’t worry, they taught us in medical school that this wont harm them, but don’t shake them, that can cause harm”. I have seen many cases now where parents were dismissed, and days later the baby died of the Triad and the innocent parent accused. If you read the trial transcripts or news stories, so many people have said they accidentally dropped the baby, but this is always dismissed. In a few rare cases people admitted slamming babies against a wall, but no, doctors say it was shaking. There is even a documented case of Shaken Adult Syndrome, where a drunken adult fell down the stairs and hit their head, but no, doctors again said she must have been shaken somehow, even though the patient knows exactly what happened.

Over the years I have worked on many SBS cases to one degree or another. I’m not an “Expert Witness” and have no particular qualification, but then neither are lawyers, judges or juries. I found that lawyers don’t know what questions to ask, and don’t know if the expert witness answered correctly. The usual answer of an expert is; “that’s normal”, if it doesn’t fit in with the SBS dogma. You can show them findings on the lab results or post mortem, for example Haemosidrein Pigment ( and Iron stain found on tissue which indicates previous historical bleeding) and the lawyer, judge or jury have no clue whether this is normal or not. This is where I come in. I have assisted lawyers in asking the right questions and understanding what is the correct response. In a recent case in Ireland, I saw 2 doctors lie in court. One Professor of Paediatrics, when asked by the judge whether the blood supply to the eyes was separate from the brain, he answered they were separate. Anyone who has completed High School knows that the blood supply to the brain is through the Carotid Arteries (right and left side), essentially there is only 1 artery, but the barrister or judge did not catch this.

Prosecutors must love SBS cases. If the baby dies, it must be the only case of murder where you don’t need a murder weapon or forensics, not even a witness, all you need is a doctor to say the Triad was present and you have a conviction. You could even have a video of the baby falling at a restaurant days earlier and hitting a tiled floor and having a bruise at the point of impact, but no, shaking is the only possible explanation. The chances of finding an expert witness are getting slimmer and slimmer. A few years ago a Policeman from the London MET Police suggested at an SBS Industry Conference that anyone who testifies for the defense in SBS cases should be targeted so that no defence is possible. And target these people they did. Every witness who testifies for innocent people has been targeted in one way or another. In one case, Dr Waney Squier, probably the most prominent expert on the paediatric brain at Oxford University, was reported to the General Medical Council and was subject to what many people identified as a witch hunt, and was struck off. She was reported by the MET, not surprisingly. She was reinstated by the high court and many, many people spoke out in her defence and and about the manner in which the “Inquisition” was carried out.

I could write a book on the topic, but this is a blog. The bottom line is that Shaken Baby Syndrome is junk science. Again, my opinion counts for nothing, but Scientific experiments have shown beyond all scientific doubt that SBS is quite impossible. My friend and colleague who helped me understand SBS, is probably the best authority on the subject. For years she has supported innocent caregivers and educated many people on the topic. I have personally read hundreds of scientific paper on the topic but I have never seen so much “circular arguments” or “circular thinking” on any subject. Every article written by medics presupposes that SBS exists and is accepted science. Nothing shows a single experiment of a baby being shaken or of how there are 21 known conditions that can also cause the Triad. One paper cites another paper and everyone ignore the ultimate study by Dr John Lloyd et al.

You can read or cite all the studies you want, but this is the definitive work. If this study became the definitive study that everyone accepted, we could save the lives of many babies. We could move past conspiracy theory of SBS and find the root cause. In decades of study on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, we are no further ahead other than immoveable babies should be placed on their back. Dogma is holding back science and medical advancement, worse yet, it is killing babies by believing in unproven dogma. Innocent caregivers are being jailed and the people responsible for these miscarriages of justice are doctors who are supposed to be saving lives. The study is here in pdf format. I would urge people to print off their own copies, read it and then send it on to your GP or Paediatrician;

The colleague and world expert is Sue Luttner. She runs a website which is the definitive resource on the topic. In addition there are many Facebook pages for support for innocent caregivers accused. If you have read my other blogs, you probably begin to see threads that I have noticed in child protection. You see that conspiracy theory is widely practised, people shun Evidence Based and Scientific Theory in favour of dogmas and moral panics when it comes to “protecting” children. There is a certain mindset that is prevalent, albeit with the best intentions and with the best interests of the child at heart, but it simply isn’t working, it’s causing far more harm than good to children and we need to eliminate it if children are ever to be truly protected.


3 thoughts on “Shake Baby, Shake.

      1. YouTube videos you should watch.
        Paint Shaker experiment

        Why short falls are more deadly than shaking

        1 hour presentation on how pediatric brain injury occurs

        NACDL SBS defence lawyers on how to defend cases

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