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Physical Exam for Shaken Baby Syndrome

A physical exam helps the doctor find out whether a child has injuries related to shaken baby syndrome. The doctor will:

  • Check the child's body for any bruises, swollen areas, or cuts. The doctor writes down and photographs any injuries.
  • Evaluate a child's head for signs of swelling. The doctor feels the child's scalp and measures head circumference. A baby's fontanelles (the soft spots on top of the skull) are checked for size and signs of bulging.
  • Check the chest area. The doctor feels for rib fractures and listens to the heart and lungs.
  • Examine the child's eyes for the type of damage inside the eye that is caused by shaking or throwing. A pediatric eye specialist can confirm the presence of this damage. The child's pupils are dilated with eyedrops so the doctor can thoroughly see the back of the eye. The doctor may use a special camera, called a retinoscope, to photograph the retina.
  • Examine the child's ears, mouth, and nose for injuries.
  • Feel the child's neck for any marks, bruises, or swelling.
  • Examine the child's abdomen, anus, and genital area for swelling or other signs of internal injury.
  • Feel the child's arms and legs for signs of breaks.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised February 16, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 16, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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