Shaken Baby Syndrome, also called Abusive Head Trauma, refers to a group of non-accidental injuries to the brain and eye that can occur when a baby or young child is shaken with such force that the brain is caused to move and bounce within the hard skull. These injuries occur when a baby's head is forced to move rapidly, in back and forth, side-to-side and circular motions while the torso remains relatively fixed. When an infant is shaken and then thrown or slammed down against a hard surface, such as a crib, mattress or couch, the sudden impact can cause even more damage to the brain than shaking alone.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a form of physical abuse and a leading cause of death and disability in infants. Shaking can be the result of a pattern of abuse or a one-time event. In either case, shaking leading to injury requires an act that is vigorous to violent. Even a brief moment of vigorous shaking can cause serious and permanent damage.