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Shaken Bay Syndrome: Findings of International Symposium

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), also known as childhood neurotrauma or inflicted traumatic brain injury, is the leading cause of death from childhood maltreatment.

An international symposium sponsored by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome examined how to establish the incidence of inflicted traumatic brain injury in young children and explored issues of definitions, passive versus active surveillance, study designs, proxy measures, statistical issues and prevention. Key findings are published in a Special Supplement to the April 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The mortality rate of victims of this intentional brain injury is about 25%, while survivors do very poorly. In a recent Canadian study, investigators found that after 10 years only 7% of the survivors were reported as "normal," 12% were in a coma or vegetative state, 60% had a moderate or greater degree of disability and 85% would require ongoing multidisciplinary care for the rest of their lives.

Presentations addressed two main themes: (1) the adequacy of current and/or projected systems for measuring the incidence of shaken baby syndrome; and (2) a review of available strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of primary programs for its prevention in large jurisdictions.

Writing in the supplement, Guest Editors Ronald G. Barr, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and Child & Family Research Institute, and Desmond K. Runyan, The University of North Caroline, Chapel Hill, state, "...it is apparent that there is a 'bad news/good news' storyline emerging here. While the challenges to measuring inflicted injury are real and considerable, it is equally clear that considerable progress has been made and that reliable and valid measurement appears feasible and obtainable. Substantive work continues to be done toward providing reasonable measures that will be informative both about the nature and scope of inflicted neurotrauma in infants and about the possibility that prevention programs will be able to be demonstrated to be effective (or not) on the basis of empiric measurements. It is none too soon."

These articles appear in a Special Supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 34, Issue 4 (April 2008), Supplement 1, published by Elsevier.

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