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American Academy of Pediatrics Wants Doctors to Stop Using the Term "Shaken Baby Syndrome"

The American Academy of Pediatrics wants doctors to stop using the term "shaken baby syndrome" in favor of something more scientific.

The largest U.S. pediatricians' group recommends "abusive head trauma," calling it a more comprehensive diagnosis for brain, skull and spinal injuries associated with shaking and other head injuries inflicted on infants.

The academy says the new diagnostic term should be used in medical records and that it may provide more clarity in the courtroom.

These changes are in response to criticism of the term and defense tactics arguing that it is impossible to shake a baby hard enough to cause brain injuries without also breaking the infant's neck.  Although this has been refuted by the National Institute of Health, none the less, to avoid distractions in the courtroom, the newer terminology is preferred.

The pediatrics academy recommends the new terminology in a policy statement being published in the May issue of its journal, Pediatrics.

Dr. Cindy Christian, a co-author of the policy statement and a child abuse researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said evidence shows babies can be injured by severe shaking alone but sometimes they have head injuries caused by other abuse as well.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome says an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 U.S. children are injured or killed by shaking each year, but that the number may be much higher since many cases likely are not detected.

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