Check out the statistics cited below. We've have posted abstracts from many of these shaken baby studies, and they all have similar conclusions regarding the perpetrators.
Family hopes their tragedy can be used to educate others about shaken baby syndrome
Published: Sunday, September 05, 2010, 12:00 AM
Body and Mind staff
On an October afternoon in 2004, Amy Raymond’s husband, David, met her at work, pushing their two little girls in the stroller. He had come to walk her home, like he always did.
“Miranda was supposedly sleeping in the stroller, and I had no reason to doubt my husband,” said Amy, 43, who worked at Giant in New Cumberland then and still does. “But halfway home, I had the urge to pick her up, and I knew right away that something was wrong.”
Miranda, the couple’s 4-month-old baby, was limp and didn’t respond to her mother’s touch. In a panic, Amy raced to her parents’ home, two doors down from hers in New Cumberland, where her mother, Bonnie Bowers, called 911. From Harrisburg Hospital, Miranda was flown to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Within the next 24 hours, David Raymond would tell police that he had shaken Miranda when she wouldn’t stop crying. And within three days, Amy Raymond would have to make the hardest decision of her life — to take her baby off life support.
“If she would live, she would be blind, deaf, basically a vegetable. Even knowing this, it was a heartbreaking decision ... can you imagine?” said Amy, breaking into tears. “The whole thing was kind of surreal. You’re sitting there listening to everything, but it’s like, this isn’t happening to me.”
Doctors thought Miranda would die within 48 hours, but she lived seven days. She died in her mother’s arms on Oct. 13, 2004.
Her husband never confessed to Amy, only to the police and to Amy’s brother, Brad Ort, who was in the hospital chapel when his brother-in-law told him what happened.
“He told me, ‘I got really, really angry because [Miranda] wouldn’t shut up, and it was my birthday.’ Then he picked up the Bible, of all things, and showed me how he shook her by shaking the Bible. It was horrific. I felt physically ill. Then he told me, ‘As soon as it got quiet, I felt a lot better,’” Ort, now 36, recalled. “It was a complete shock. He was the model father.”
Frustration is the No. 1 cause of shaken baby syndrome, which happens to between 750 and 3,750 infants in the United States each year, about a quarter of whom die, according to the state Department of Health.
Overall, 75 percent of perpetrators are parents, with 60 percent being a father or father figure, said Dr. Mark Dias, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center who has led the state in education and prevention of shaken baby syndrome.
Abusive head trauma, as Dias calls it, happens when violent shaking of a baby or young child takes place, causing the child’s head to whip around in a rotational manner, with or without impact, and blood vessels in the brain and eyes to rip and bleed.
“I think [shaking a baby] can potentially happen to anybody, but there is a wide variety of thresholds of people’s abilities to hear a baby cry,” Dias said. “If you fly off the handle more easily, you may be more prone to shake your baby. Parents should have a conversation, recognizing whether either one is prone to anger problems.”
David Raymond is in federal prison in Michigan, serving a 12½- to 25-year sentence, Amy said. She is planning to protest any release short of his full sentence.
“Do I hate him? No, but I hate what he did. If I hold hate against him, I can’t move on,” said Amy, who said she knows she must be strong for her daughter, Emily, now 7, and her older son, Matt, 17.
Amy credits her close-knit family with giving her the support she needed to get through the tragedy.
Six months after Amy’s tragedy, Ort and his wife began wondering what they could do to prevent this from happening to another family. “Starting a foundation was our answer,” he said.
Bonnie Bowers, 66, is president of the Miranda Joy Foundation, which is dedicated to educating the public on shaken baby syndrome, child abuse and domestic violence.
“I want people to always remember Miranda and to know what shaking can do to a baby, to a mother, to a whole family. There’s always something else you can do. Hand the baby off, pick up the phone, put the baby in a crib and just walk away,” said Bowers, who spends hours on the Internet daily, corresponding with people all over the world whose families have been touched by shaken baby syndrome.
The Miranda Joy Foundation does several fundraisers each year to raise money for educational materials used at community presentations on shaken baby syndrome. Recently, Bowers purchased a doll — with the fragile, wobbly head that infants have — from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome to demonstrate what happens to a baby’s head when shaken.
“No one gets up in the morning and says, ‘I think I’ll shake my baby today.’ A lot of people don’t realize how frustrating a crying baby can be,” Bowers said. “People need to think about whether they have anger management problems so they are aware they might have a problem if their baby cries.”
Amy Raymond, who has never before spoken in detail about the circumstances of Miranda’s death because it’s still so painful, said she knows prevention will come only from awareness.
“It was like something changed in David after this happened; he wasn’t the husband or father I knew. In the courtroom, he said nothing — not even ‘I’m sorry.’ I’ve never heard that from him,” she said. “It was hell, and it’s still hell. It took me a long time to get through a day without crying.
“If I can help just one family by talking, it’s worth the pain of reliving it.”
Education is the key to prevention
Symptoms of shaken baby syndrome
Extreme irritability or other changes in behavior
Lethargy, sleepiness, not smiling
Loss of consciousness
Loss of vision
Pale or bluish skin
Poor feeding, lack of appetite
Shaken baby syndrome is preventable. Here’s how:
Never shake a baby or child in play or in anger. Even gentle shaking can become violent shaking when you are angry.
Do not hold your baby during an argument.
If you find yourself becoming annoyed or angry with your baby, put him in the crib and leave the room.
Call a friend or relative to come and stay with the child if you feel out of control.
Contact a local crisis hotline or child abuse hotline for help and guidance.
Seek the help of a counselor and attend parenting classes.
Source: National Institutes of Health