Shaken Baby Syndrome aka The Modern Day Witch Hunt - BESS
Shaken Baby Cases on the Rise
It appears as though the number of people accused and charged with the horrific act of shaking a baby is on the rise. Now I am not saying that everyone accused of such crimes are innocent, but I am saying that shaken baby syndrome accusations are being handed out without proper examination being completed. It is a "modern day witch hunt" because if it appears to be SBS than it has to be SBS, just like years ago if you were suspected of being a witch, well then you were labeled a witch. If you were declared a witch you were burned, if you are accused of SBS you will sit in jail. All of this occurs due to the ignorance of medical staff and the "so called" medical experts.
In today's society everything as we know it to be today can be completely different tomorrow. This is especially true when it comes to technology and medical advancements. So why are so many experts in SBS so closed minded? Is it their own personal fears of being wrong in the past that prevents them from thinking outside of their small boxes today? Maybe it is just something as simple as the money they receive for being a "so called" expert that keeps driving them to falsely accuse others of horrific shaken baby crimes? Whatever it is behind the rapid rise in the number of cases each year needs to be put out in the open so that the vast number of people accused or charged falsely of these crimes can be vindicated!
I have made this a personal commitment of mine being that this subject hits close to home for both myself and my family!!
Disorders that mimic SBS
There are other disorders that mimic SBS along with symptoms from accidents, etc.
A few examples of disorders that mimic SBS are: Benign Enlargement of the Subarachnoid Space (BESS), Genetic Disorders, and Blood Disorders. Two major mimickers of non-traumatic head trauma are glutaric aciduria and Menkes' disease which is a rare metabolic condition.
Other mimickers can include injuries from a severe car crash, or a fall from a two story building.
Pictures from 2 months to 1 year of age
My son's head circumference growth chart
Benign Enlargement of the Subarachnoid Space
What is BESS?
This is a relatively common disorder. It occurs in approximately 16 percent of infants. It is more common in boys than in girls and frequently has occurred or occurs in other family members. Macrocephaly may or may not be present at birth; if not present at birth, the head circumference rapidly increases to greater than the 95 percentile, and then will tend to parallel the curve.
Imaging is necessary to make the diagnosis. Head ultrasonography or CT scans will demonstrate enlargement of the subarachnoid space inside the head. Children who were born at term and have enlargement of the subarachnoid space typically have normal development and normal neurological examinations, though there are exceptions. These children should be closely observed for developmental or neurological problems. Head growth should be plotted to be certain that head growth slows to a normal rate and begins to parallel the normal curve. Repeat imaging is unnecessary unless head growth deviates from the normal curve, the neurological examination is abnormal, or the development is delayed.
Children with BESS usually do not require surgical intervention. However, they may be at increased risk for a subdural hematoma with minimal or no trauma.
My son was diagnosed with Benign Enlargement of the Subarachnoid Space, or BESS. This diagnosis was not reached easily, instead it took several months of testing and accusations of SBS. Along with the fear for our son, we were also faced with fear of jail time and losing our other children to the system. We dealt daily with Child Protective Services and the rude comments and dirty looks that can only be given to child abusers.
He was born 2 months and 1 day premature and spent about 3 weeks in the NICU. He weighed 4 pounds and 1 ounce at birth, and did not require any interference to survive. He was able to breath on his own and did not need to be assisted. The only things he had to face was keeping his body temperature up, remember to breath, and learn to eat and breath at the same time. These were all minor milestones he had to reach to graduate from the NICU. He accomplished this within 3 weeks of birth.
The growth of is head increased dramatically from birth up to about 10 months of age. It appears on the growth chart as almost a straight line upward instead of following a normal growth curve. He developed normally and hit every milestone on time, if not sooner. I use to joke about how advanced he was even against his early start at life. When he was 10 month old he fell in our parlor from a standing position hitting his head very hard off the carpeted floor. Within a few minutes he had a seizure, in which prompted us to immediately dial 911. It turned out that a subdural hematoma was shown on a CT scan. Later that night we were transferred to a Children's Hospital were they noticed subdural hematomas of different ages on the CT scan. At that moment he was labeled a victim of non-accidental trauma, and somebody had been abusing him since about 4 months of age.
The subdural hematoma that was recent, along with the subdural hematomas of different ages was said to have happened from nothing other than SBS. He also had a slight retinal bleed that again was from his abuse. The X-rayed his entire body and found no signs of broken bones or old fractures, and there was no other mark or bruise on him. We were informed by the "abuse expert" that the injuries our son had can only occur from a severe car crash, a two story fall, or SBS.
Several months later our son's diagnosis somehow changed the "abuse expert's" statement. His symptoms were from BESS, and the retinal bleed was caused by the pressure inside of his head from the excess fluid and bleeding from the disorder. This is why my faith in "experts" is not that great. There was never an apology or let alone an explanation of how it took so long for this diagnosis. My opinion is that the "medical expert" is not very educated on anything but abuse. It looked like abuse to him, so it was then called abuse.
I still would like to know how someone can shake a 20 pound infant so violently and not leave any type of bruise of mark on the skin of that child? In my opinion it would take a very strong grip to do that horrific act!! It sickens me to this day how we were treated and spoke to. We were scared parents worried about our son and nobody around us could answer our questions. The only responsive we heard to our thousands of questions was "It is very indicative to shaken baby syndrome." In the long run it wasn't SBS, but if it wasn't for the person reading his MRI and making the diagnosis our kids would have been removed and someone would be sitting in prison.
Our son is now 3 years old. He had his last MRI recently and the enlarged space is finally gone and his head circumference falls on the growth chart for a child his age! He finally came back onto the growth chart and that is the happiest news for us!!!
Signs and Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome
There are many signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome but at the same time these signs that may be present are not only seen with SBS.
- poor feeding/eating
- cardiopulmonary arrest
- failure to thrive
- pale or blush skin
- subdural hematomas
- retinal bleeding
- bruising of the brain
- broken bones
- skull fractures
Read a more detailed hub about our experience
- Benign Enlargement of the Subarachnoid Spaces or BESS Syndrome, infant brain
This is a topic that is very hard for me to write about because it took a great toll on my family. I just want to give a little bit of history before I get started. My youngest son was born February 7, 2008....