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Shaken Baby Syndrome - Treatment Overview

A child with shaken baby syndrome is admitted to a hospital for observation and treatment. Doctors will closely monitor the child. They watch for signs of brain swelling and difficulty breathing, which can lead to the death of brain cells or a stroke. If signs of these problems occur, the child is admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) where he or she is treated with oxygen therapy and/or a ventilator. A neurosurgeon may treat the bleeding and swelling in the brain. Sometimes surgery is needed.

Other treatment depends on the child's specific injuries. For example, a cast is applied to any broken bones, and cuts are stitched or bandaged. A child who has seizures is evaluated by a neurologist who may prescribe anticonvulsant medicine. Other types of specialists assess, treat, and monitor children who have long-term care issues, such as those related to intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities.

Other children in the care of the suspected abuser must be protected and examined for injury.

A wide variety of counseling therapies may be used for both children and parents. Specific treatment depends on the type of abuse, who inflicted it, in what setting it occurred, and the child's age. Health and legal professionals work as a team to develop the most effective program using their training, experience, and judgment.

Parents may regain custody of their children after they have lost guardianship because of child abuse or neglect. Whether they do so depends on the severity of the abuse or neglect and a professional evaluation of their rehabilitation progress. In severe cases, future contact between parent and child must be supervised. Sometimes parents lose all parental rights.

Intentional injury is a crime. Police perform site investigations and interview other caregivers. If intentional injury is suspected, the child's caregiver will be charged and tried in a criminal court.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 20, 2013
    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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