Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)

Stephensons has reviewed a number of cases involving Shaken Baby Syndrome (and many other cases of alleged inflicted injuries on babies and young children), we have strong relationships with specialist barristers and medical experts who also have significant experience in this field. This experience is likely to be invaluable to individuals accused or convicted of inflicting serious or fatal injuries on a child. For advice and assistance contact us on 0203 816 1098.

This controversial diagnosis consists of a triad of medical symptoms including subdural haematoma, retinal haemorrhage and brain swelling. As the name suggests the diagnosis often leads to a presumption of child abuse (intentional shaking) which can result in the criminal prosecution of the person looking after the child at the time of its collapse. Diagnosis of SBS is more likely when there is no history of accidental trauma or known existing medical conditions.

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Complex area

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a complex and controversial subject, which attracts significant media attention given that it is often said to be a parent or family member who has inflicted the diagnosed injuries on usually a very young baby.

However, there are many medical experts and legal practitioners who strongly believe that SBS is over diagnosed due to a willingness by clinicians to rely too heavily on the triad as a diagnostic tool. In July 2005 the Court of Appeal heard four appeals of SBS convictions; one manslaughter conviction was quashed, a grievous bodily harm conviction was quashed, a murder conviction was substituted with manslaughter, and a manslaughter conviction was upheld.

Stephensons represented three of the four appellants in the landmark ruling where the Court found that the classic triad is not 100% diagnostic of SBS and that clinical history should also be considered. The Court commented:

"Whilst a strong pointer to NAHI  (non-accidental head injury) on its own we do not think it is possible to find that it must automatically and necessarily lead to a diagnosis of NAHI. All the circumstances, including the clinical picture, must be taken into account".

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