Majority of physicians in the US accept that shaking a young child is capable of producing a life-threatening pooling of blood outside the brain, severe retinal haemorrhage, coma or death, according to a new survey.
“Our data show that shaking a young child is generally accepted by physicians to be a dangerous form of abuse,” said study lead author Sandeep Narang from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in the US.
The study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
Recent media reports and judicial decisions have called into question the general acceptance among physicians of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma.
General acceptance of concepts in the medical community is a critical factor for admitting medical expert testimony in courts.
In cases of child maltreatment, courts often rely on medical expert testimony to establish the most likely cause of a child’s injuries.
“Claims of substantial controversy within the medical community about shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma have created a chilling effect on child protection hearings and criminal prosecutions,” Narang, who is also Associate Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, noted.
The study examined survey responses from 628 physicians frequently involved in evaluation of injured children at 10 leading children’s hospitals in the US.
“Our study is the first to provide the much needed empiric confirmation that multidisciplinary physicians throughout the country overwhelmingly accept the validity of these diagnoses, and refutes the recent contention that there is this emerging ‘groundswell’ of physician opinion against the diagnoses,” Narang said.