Hong Kong Med J 1999;5:337–41 | Number 4, December 1999
The shaken baby syndrome: review of 10 cases
ACW Lee, KT So, D Fong, SH Luk
Department of Paediatrics, Tuen Mun Hospital, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To study the characteristics of the shaken baby syndrome from 10 cases in Hong Kong.
DESIGN. Retrospective study.
SETTING. Regional public hospital, Hong Kong.
PATIENTS. Six boys and four girls (mean age, 0.54 years; range, 0.18-1.42 years) in whom the shaken baby syndrome was diagnosed between January 1994 and June 1998.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Clinical features at presentation, radiological findings, management, and outcome.
RESULTS. All 10 patients presented with coma: the mean score on the Glasgow coma scale was 4.8 (range, 3-10). In all 10 cases, the history provided by the carers were incompatible with the patient's presentation. Nine patients presented with seizures. Retinal haemorrhages were detected in all patients, but peripheral signs of bruising were observed in only three. Acute subdural haematoma was found in eight patients; one of the remaining two children had subarachnoid and subdural haemorrhages, whereas the other had subarachnoid and intracerebral haemorrhages. Skeletal fractures were detected in two patients. The suspected abusers included either or both parents (n=3), childminders (n=3), and maids (n=2); the identity of the abusers were unknown in two cases. Prosecution by the police was initiated in three cases and two abusers were found to be guilty. Three children died of the abuse; the seven survivors had significant neurological handicaps.
CONCLUSION. Medical practitioners should be alert to the occurrence of abusive head injury in children. Peripheral signs are uncommon and a high degree of suspicion is needed for the management to be successful.
Key words: Child abuse; Diagnosis, differential; Hematoma, subdural; Retinal hemorrhage
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