Criminal Justice

A Shake to the System

New research into "shaken baby syndrome" could put hundreds of convictions in peril.

|

In January 2008, a Wisconsin appeals court granted a new trial to Audrey Edmunds, a 45-year-old woman who had been sentenced in 1995 to 18 years in prison for murdering Natalie Beard, an infant in her care. The ruling was significant, because medical experts said Beard died as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a diagnosis that grew increasingly common in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Wisconsin appellate court was the first in the country to recognize increasing doubts about the reliability of SBS diagnoses.

The phrase shaken baby syndrome entered the pop culture lexicon in 1997, when British au pair Louise Woodward was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Massachusetts infant Matthew Eappen. At the time, the medical community almost universally agreed on the symptoms of SBS. But starting around 1999, a fringe group of SBS skeptics began growing into a powerful reform movement. The Woodward case brought additional attention to the issue, inviting new research into the legitimacy of SBS. Today, as reflected in the Edmunds case, there are significant doubts about both the diagnosis of SBS and how it's being used in court.

In a compelling article published this month in the Washington University Law Review, DePaul University law professor Deborah Teurkheimer argues that the medical research has now shifted to the point where U.S. courts must conduct a major review of most SBS cases from the last 20 years. The problem, Teurkheimer explains, is that the presence of three symptoms in an infant victim—bleeding at the back of the eye, bleeding in the protective area of the brain, and brain swelling—have led doctors and child protective workers to immediately reach a conclusion of SBS. These symptoms have long been considered pathognomic, or exclusive, to SBS. As this line of thinking goes, if those three symptoms are present in the autopsy, then the child could only have been shaken to death.

Moreover, an SBS medical diagnosis has typically served as a legal diagnosis as well. Medical consensus previously held that these symptoms present immediately in the victim. Therefore, a diagnosis of SBS established cause of death (shaking), the identity of the killer (the person who was with the child when it died), and even the intent of the accused (the vigorous nature of the shaking established mens rea). Medical opinion was so uniform that the accused, like Edmunds, often didn't bother questioning the science. Instead, they'd often try to establish the possibility that someone else shook the child.

But now the consensus has shifted. Where the near-unanimous opinion once held that the SBS triad of symptoms could only result from a shaking with the force equivalent of a fall from a three-story to four-story window, or a car moving at 25 mph to 40 mph (depending on the source), research completed in 2003 using lifelike infant dolls suggested that vigorous human shaking produces bleeding similar to that of only a 2-foot to 3-foot fall. Furthermore, the shaking experiments failed to produce symptoms with the severity of those typically seen in SBS deaths.

The research implies that human beings simply cannot shake a baby to death without an accompanying impact to the head. SBS cases, however, frequently show no external injuries. This suggests that other causes are at work. Additional research has shown babies to be lucid up to 72 hours before classic SBS symptoms set in, casting doubt on the long-held theory that the child's caretaker at the time of death (or loss of consciousness) was the likely killer.

Last year, Discover magazine published a provocative article laying out much of this new research. Notably, the magazine found several specialists who have since changed their minds after testifying for the prosecution in multiple SBS cases. (At a post-conviction hearing for Edmunds, all of her defense experts said that when the case was tried in 1995, they would have testified for the prosecution.) One of those specialists is Ronald Uscinski, a student of Ayub Ommaya, the scientist whose research on monkeys in the late 1960s is thought to be the origin of the SBS diagnosis. When Uscinski went back and reexamined the study, he found no support for the way Ommaya's research is currently being being used in the courtroom.

"When I put all of this together, I said, my God, this is a sham," Uscinski told Discover. "Somebody made a mistake right at the very beginning, and look at what's come out of it."

Teurkheimer estimates that "what's come out of it" is about 200 SBS prosecutions per year in America, mostly for murder. She believes there's legitimate reason to review nearly all of these cases, including even those where a suspect admitted to having shaken the baby. As she points out, suggestive or coercive questioning may have elicited such admissions. Moreover, in some cases, a defendant who admitted to shaking a child in order to revive it after it had already been unconscious was seen as having confessed to killing the child.

Whether someone can actually "free shake" an infant to death remains hotly disputed in the medical community. Where there is consensus, however, is that the triad of symptoms traditionally associated with SBS are not exclusive to it. A number of other things can produce these symptoms, including falls, head impacts, infections, birth defects, reaction to vaccinations, and surgical procedures. That's a significant departure from what prosecutors have been telling juries for the past 20 years.

In other words, there are almost certainly a significant number of innocent people in prison today who were wrongly convicted of shaking a baby to death. The problem is that there are also likely a number of guilty people who, nevertheless, shouldn't have been convicted on the basis of science-based testimony we now know to be false. The task will be convincing both the courts and the public to risk freeing actual child killers in order to free the innocent people convicted with flawed medical testimony.

Furthermore, unlike with DNA testing, which came about through rapid scientific breakthroughs, the issue of SBS is tied to a slow shift in the scientific consensus. We simply won't have the slam-dunk evidence DNA provides when it points to the real culprit. With SBS, the question is usually whether a crime was even committed, or if a child's symptoms were caused by something other than shaking.

This whole controversy speaks to a fundamental tension between science and law. Science moves along a slow trajectory from inquiry toward certainty. While the courts have been eager to embrace new science—particularly forensic science—at the trial level, they're reluctant to revisit those cases when the science changes. One example is the now-discredited specialty of identifying bite mark evidence. But while science is mostly interested in testing, revising, and improving existing theories, once the jury has delivered its verdict, our criminal justice system puts a premium on finality. It takes a major upheaval in the scientific community (like DNA technology) to get courts to consider reopening old cases.

But at the very least the courts should stop prosecutors from making the same mistakes in the future. But even that isn't happening. Tuerkheimer, for example, found literature in current manuals for prosecutors that relies on discredited research from the 1980s and 1990s, still touting the pathognomic nature of SBS symptoms. And the same week Edmunds was given a new trial, an appeals court in Arkansas denied a new trial to a woman convicted under similar circumstances, based on the presence of the same symptoms.

Britain, Canada, and Australia have all initiated major reviews of shaken baby prosecutions in response to new research. Teurkheimer makes a convincing case that it's time for the U.S. to do the same.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

NEXT: Last Week's Top 5 Hits at Reason.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “But now the consensus has shifted. Where the near-unanimous opinion once held that the SBS triad of symptoms could only result from a shaking with the force equivalent of a fall from a three-story to four-story window, or a car moving at 25 mph to 40 mph (depending on the source), research completed in 2003 using lifelike infant dolls suggested that vigorous human shaking produces bleeding similar to that of only a 2-foot to 3-foot fall. Furthermore, the shaking experiments failed to produce symptoms with the severity of those typically seen in SBS deaths.”

    Every child who has ever lived has fallen two or three feet. If these results were true, then I seriously doubt that there would be a human race. They used dolls. Perhaps the dolls are not a good proxie for a human. Further, there has been research done into children falling under known circumstances where there were multiple witnesses. They have thousands of documented cases of children falling five and even ten feet, yet not once has there been such a case that resulted in shaken baby syndrom like symptoms.

    If the study that Radlo trots out were true, kids would be showing up all the time with these symptoms. But that doesn’t seem to happen. Find me a case where the cause of the fall is 100% known and the kid feel only three or four feet and exhibited these symptoms. Until then, I am not buying junk science done with dolls.

  2. John: Radley’s saying that shaking the dolls produced bleeding similar to a 2-3 foot fall, not that the 2-3 foot fall produced bleeding similar to the symptoms of SBS. Big difference, because as you’ve said, every kid falls down that distance and survives. His argument is that the bleeding present isn’t sufficient to kill.

    Regardless though, there is the evidence that the same level of bleeding occurs with other conditions besides SBS, and therefore casts doubt on most any SBS prosecutions.

  3. Children may fall that far, but infants do not.

  4. Balko argues that the shaken baby cases show how a criminal justice system that puts a high value on finality is slow to recognize advances in science and medical research.

    I have to disagree. When said advances result in more “tools” for prosecutors, they are very quick to adopt them. It’s only when scientific advances provide ammunition for the defense that prosecutors begin to question them.

  5. John,

    I think you’re misunderstanding the study. The study mimicked the sort of vigorous shaking SBS defendants are accused of, and found that it was equivalent to the damage done by a 2-3 foot fall. Which is to say not very much damage.

    The study’s researchers believe that infants showing up with what have long been described as SBS symptoms were likely suffering from something else, because they believe their study shows shaking doesn’t produce those sorts of symptoms.

    As I mentioned in the article, there’s still plenty of disagreement on this. Where there is mostly consensus now, though, is that the three traditional SBS symptoms could *only* be the result of a child that had been shaken.

  6. Good point Tomcat. But I still don’t see where that gets the accused in these cases. The fact remains that children are very tough and hard to hurt. They don’t just fall off the couch and die. So, normal violent shaking might not produce the injury, so what did? In these cases, the defense is that the kid fell or no one knows what happened. Balko’s research shows that it takes something really violent to produce such results which further points to human cause rather than an accident.

    1. Lots of things can cause internal bleeding and not all of them are violent; some viruses, for example.

      In any case, this research downgrades what was previously seen as clear method-and-time-of-death to a muddy and indecisive bit of circumstantial evidence.

      1. (P.S. to previous: A brain aneurysm is another example.)

        1. link to “virus” pls. (credible link, that is – these things need good info)

  7. Radley to editors: “I’m tired of fighting for people society ignores. For once, I’d like to fight for people society truly despises.”

    Editors: “How ’bout convicted babykillers?”

    [Radley runs to the Balkomobile]

  8. Fair enough Radley, I misread your study. But, I would point you to several studies that have been done on children falling. They have never found a case where a child fell form under 10 feet and exhibited the symptoms of SBS. So, all of the people who give the “deadly couch” excuse are lying. Kids can’t seriously harm themselves falling just a few feet. These symptoms require massive trauma. Do not underestimate what people will do with a child. I prosecuted a case where the father admited to bouncing the kid off of a wall.

  9. infants =/= children

  10. … so does this mean it’s perfectly alright now to shake babies THAT WON’T SHUT UP? Woohoo!

  11. Infants aren’t children? Orwell just did a spit take in his grave.

  12. John,

    If the kid has external injuries, like a bruise to the head, I agree with you. Something must have inflicted those injuries.

    But the law review article I referenced is referring specifically to cases where the infant displays only the three internal injuries (brain swelling, bleeding in the eyes, bleeding in the brain) with no external bruising. These cases have always been default SBS cases. There’s now a healthy amount of research showing that any number of other conditions can cause the same symptoms.

    Which means the people convicted in those cases were convicted with bad science, and a good percentage of them may be innocent.

  13. It’s too bad Apple put the kabbosh on the shake-the-baby app.

  14. “Good point Tomcat. But I still don’t see where that gets the accused in these cases. The fact remains that children are very tough and hard to hurt. They don’t just fall off the couch and die. So, normal violent shaking might not produce the injury, so what did? In these cases, the defense is that the kid fell or no one knows what happened. ”

    It puts them in the position of knowing other potential causes for those same three symptoms. For children who exhibit these symptoms in the course of a natural death (infection maybe?), in the past someone would have been prosecuted for SBS. Now, there are other potential causes, enough possibly for reasonable doubt…depending on other evidence presented.

    The defense of falling off the couch was probably originated as a means of explaining the conditions without it necessarily being a shaking. However, it was based on the same bad science that led to the prosecution in the first place, and was seriously flawed because of that.

  15. “It’s too bad Apple put the kabbosh on the shake-the-baby app.”

    I do think that was horrific actually. I am very glad Apple killed that. If they had let that stand I would have thought long and hard before buying another Apple product.

  16. (brain swelling, bleeding in the eyes, bleeding in the brain)

    And they were accurately able to model brain bleeding and brain swelling in dolls?! Really? Really?!

    This sounds suspiciously like computer generated “models” of “Global Warming”. Of course they can’t include all of the pertinent variables because they are unknown, but they claim scientific discovery anyway.

  17. Thank you thank you thank you! For telling the TRUTH! If Obama’s SOCIALIST minions get their way parents in the USA will no longer have their basic GOD GIVEN right to be parents and enforce discipline. Thank God there are Republicans out there who are willing to speak TRUTH to power and fight for parents’ rights – the Shaken Baby Syndrome MYTH is just one among thousands used by LIBERAL SCIENTISTS to erode our rights (akin to global warming hokum, anti-Bell Curve jive, and Krugman-style economics). Thank you HIT N RUN for exposing the TRUTH behind Shaken Baby Syndrome. It is bullcrap! Everyone here – I encourage you to research the nefarious UN Rights of Children movement. It is a duplicitous attempt to rob parents of rights and make our children white slaves of Obama!

  18. Infants aren’t children? Orwell just did a spit take in his grave.

    I apologize, the definition i am suing is unclear. Infants are under one year of age, they cannot walk or talk, and cannot even supoport their heads during the first 5 months of life. If they are dropped two or three feet they can be seriously hurt.

    Children include humans between the age of 1 second and 17 years, 364 days. The amount of damage taken from a 2 to 3 foot fall depends on their age.

  19. One other thing I would like to add – the Parents’ Rights movement is 100% committed to the Tea Party Movement! And will surely play a key role in throwing the “Demon Rats” out of office in 2010 and electing a Republican for president in 2012! The Government has NO RIGHT telling us how to punish our children! BTW – awesome Blog!

  20. Ok, Parents Rights! is my new favorite “I Don’t Know What Hit’n’Run Actually Is” drive-by poster.

  21. Xeones,

    Since he’s posted here it can now be assumed that an overwhelming portion of the people commenting on this site are in favor of shaking infants to death.

  22. It’s Nick G’s fault for linking to big government dot com. We’re probably getting cross-traffic from the right wing sites.

  23. I can’t convey just how much I’d give to see a LIBERAL SCIENTIST do the anti-Bell Curve jive.

  24. But as Senior Editor Radley Balko explains, in the early 2000s, the medical consensus on shaken baby syndrome began to shift.

    Whoa, wait. You’re telling me that a CONSENSUS was wrong?

  25. Children may fall that far, but infants do not.

    Define “infant”

    My 15 month grandson fell backwards off my sofa yesterday (My hand was millimeters away from catching him) the total arc the back of his head traveled had to be 7-10 feet. Luckily, his body bent while falling and only his butt hit the floor. He picked himself up laughing. Luckily, he did not step on my heart, cause it was still on the floor.

    Since I am a man I could easily see some prosecutor going after me had the back of my grandson’s head hit the floor. I am sure that the charges would have been that I had abused an infant.

  26. It’s Nick G’s fault for linking to big government dot com. We’re probably getting cross-traffic from the right wing sites.

    Where do people get time for that stuff? I can barely manage to skim H&R and occasionally post something (usually a day late), never mind clicking through to other blogs.

  27. Xeones I don’t know what you are talking about. I discovered this Blog about 1 and a half hours ago after I Google searched for news on John Stossel’s imminent move to Fox (About Time, I’m a huge fan of both!). I have to say, so far I agree with at least 80% of what is here – Blog Posts against PC crap that says all of us who oppose Obama are racist, against health care takeover, against higher taxes, pro Tea Party stuff, etc etc etc. You may not like the way I write or some of the political feelings I have, but I plan on looking into this site more. Parents Rights is just one of many issues I am deeply interested in, and for a long time I have known that Shaken Baby Syndrome IS INFACT a bunch of BULL. If you have any doubt about how integral the Homeschool/Parents Rights movement is to the Tea Party movement I encourage you to Google it! I will probably change my “name” that I post on here from Parents Rights! b/c that does not reflect who I actually am – from now on I will be Marine Patriot! (but I will probably be “Parents Rights > Marine Patriot” during the transition.

  28. I do think that was horrific actually. I am very glad Apple killed that. If they had let that stand I would have thought long and hard before buying another Apple product.

    It’s one of the few things that made me want to buy an Apple product.

    I guess Apple would rather have people shaking actual babies. They would rather people take our their anger on the baby then harm their precious iPhone.

  29. I have been involved in researching the medical background to several SBS cases in the UK and am currently working on a number of appeals and one ongoing criminal case.

    The worrying thing for me, as a veteran campaigner being previously involved in the cases of Sally Clark and Angela Cannings, is the lack of scientific vigour and the polarisation of the people investigating the cases to believe without question it must be abuse.

    Yes we had a review, it was pathetic and further the government relied on a doctor who was not qualified to look at all aspects of the case, the review was nothing more than a pacifier.

    If you visit my blog you will find several very important papers regarding the potential causes of SBS as well as details of the shaken baby gurus in the UK starting to talk an entirely different talk to that which they have previously testified to. Unlike the American doctors they are trying to keep it quiet and hide the fact they have changed their minds about the causes. I have evidenced this on my blog.

    We are just beginning to make some headway here, thanks to US experts, believe me though, the grass is no greener over the pond! There is a long way to go yet – we are however actively campaigning and ensuring that we bring the media into any case in which we think we can educate the public, that’s having far more effect than the science, sadly.

  30. As always, excellent reporting, Radley.

    reaction to vaccinations

    Oh, no, here we go again. This is sure to get the anti-vacc nutjobs all stirred up.

    The task will be convincing both the courts and the public to risk freeing actual child killers in order to free the innocent people convicted with flawed medical testimony.

    Like that’s ever going to happen.

    But, I would point you to several studies that have been done on children falling.

    Link, please, John…

  31. As a PS, not one UK case I am working on relates to vacinnes, however several cases appear to have Ehler-Danlos Syndrome involved. Could the bleeding be caused by EDS Type 4 – far more likely than DPT or MMR!

    (Ok now the loonies will attack me – again!)

  32. “It’s one of the few things that made me want to buy an Apple product.”

    WTF???

    “I guess Apple would rather have people shaking actual babies. They would rather people take our their anger on the baby then harm their precious iPhone.”

    There are better ways to vent frustration than shaking a baby – either real or virtual. There are very few things I consider taboo but the harming of children is one of those things. Without children the human race will die off in a very short order.

  33. STFU, Parents Rights.

  34. If you have any doubt about how integral the Homeschool/Parents Rights movement is to the Tea Party movement I encourage you to Google it!

    Parents Rights,

    It seems lost on you that the name of this website, “Reason,” is not just a name chosen at random. Frothy, all-caps rants aren’t popular here as they are indicative of emotionalism, not rationalism. Also, “god-given rights.” This is not a Christianist website. Sure, there are many people here who are believers, but a roughly equal number who are atheists. Even the believers here (except John) realize that within the framework of Libertarian that appeal to authority (ie, god, bible, etc) is a non-starter for winning arguments. Also, most of us here are well aware of who makes up the Tea Party movement; please don’t insult our intelligence.

  35. Penny, what’s a “PS”???

  36. “Penny, what’s a “PS”???”

    Given the context I would say “post script”

  37. This summer, my three year old niece fell from a distance of about three feet. She suffered a major head injury and if not for the fact that we happen to live ten minutes from one of the best infant neurology centers in the world, she would no longer be with us.

    She had similar symptoms to SBS, although she also had external injuries.

  38. I prefer my babies stirred, not shaken.

  39. Tonio,

    Unless he has posted things in other threads I have not seen that is truly obnoxious I think you are being too hard on Parents Rights. However someone justifies their love of liberty what should be inportant is THAT they do so. One person who is an Ayn Rand loving atheist and another who is a Lord Acton loving Christian may come to the same point from different directions. What is important is where they end up.

  40. And they were accurately able to model brain bleeding and brain swelling in dolls?! Really? Really?!

    No Marshall Gill, that is not what they did or claimed to do. The research on dolls showed that the forces imparted by vigorous shaking were nowhere near the magnitude of those that were believed to be necessary to produce the bleeding and swelling symptoms seen.

  41. Kids can’t seriously harm themselves falling just a few feet

    My kid broke her arm on a fall of just 16 inches. She was 3 at the time. She’s had many falls that were much worse, but that one time she landed just right to cause a break.

    I have no doubt that it’s possible to shake a baby to death. And I’m also sure that a substantial number of SBS cases are erroneous. You’d see other signs – like brusing where the baby was gripped. And if you dismiss SBS, then there’s still a question of how these babies died.

  42. The research on dolls showed that the forces imparted by vigorous shaking were nowhere near the magnitude of those that were believed to be necessary to produce the bleeding and swelling symptoms seen.

    “Were believed to be necessary to produce”?

    You mean as in “the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is in amounts believed to be necessary to produce AGW”?

  43. You mean as in “the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is in amounts believed to be necessary to produce AGW”?

    No Marshall Gill, I don’t mean that. We have plenty of unintentionally well-tested data about what a two to three-foot fall does. As pointed out by John and others, the answer is “not much.” We now have some directly measured data showing that vigorous shaking does not impart more force than a rather uneventful fall does. None of that has anything to do with computer simulations of highly complex non-linear systems. But keep trying.

  44. We now have some directly measured data showing that vigorous shaking does not impart more force than a rather uneventful fall does.

    More force? I could have told you that shaking doesn’t create “more force” than falling from a 100 story building, so what?

    The question, to me, is what is the minimum amount required? Is this known? Are you saying that an “uneventful fall” CAN’T cause brain swelling or bleeding? Because they know every variable?

    but keep trying

    I am trying to understand. Your comments have not assisted in that area, unfortunately.

  45. Yo, fuck shaking babies!

  46. I am trying to understand. Your comments have not assisted in that area, unfortunately.

    Really? You’ve gone from thinking that somehow the research on the dolls used some computer simulation to predict bleeding to realizing that it was only a measure of the forces involved. I’d say I helped a lot.

    Then, when you realize that was not a valid objection to the current research (which is what you were criticizing) you instead try to cast doubt about the original assumptions about the forces required to cause the symptoms (the forces that the current research showed were not produced by shaking). Who knows, that might be a fine complaint, but it has nothing to do with the validity of the current research in determining that the forces involved are not what was thought necessary. That finding is certainly very important in that it raises questions about the previous assumptions which have led to many convictions. I don’t understand why you’re raising strange and inapt comparisons to climate research.

    The bottom line is:

    1) Previously symptoms associated with SBS were thought to require a force equivalent to a fall from several stories (the precise accuracy of this is not the critical point and not necessary for the validity of the current research).

    2) We know for a fact that, in general, falls from 2 or 3 feet do not cause the symptoms previously associated with SBS.

    3) Current research shows that vigorous shaking produces forces similar to falls from 2 to 3 feet.

    #3 is important and relevant and not some silly computer simulation of brain bleeding regardless of whether there are other explanations.

    I could have told you that shaking doesn’t create “more force” than falling from a 100 story building, so what?

    Yes, so what, indeed.

  47. To add to Brian’s post:
    4) Previously it was believed that SBS symptoms could ONLY be caused by SBS. Now we also know that they can be caused by other factors. Therefore, convictions based on “he had SBS symptoms, therefore he was shaken, only his mother was home, therefore she did it” are (or may be) inaccurate.

  48. I doubt Louis Woodward could shake a baby to death. But I suspect SBS has mostly been used as another tool to keep certain types off the streets.

  49. Louis maybe, Louise, probably not.

  50. You misunderstand me if you think I am attempting to support the theory of SBS. I am not. I am simply trying to understand how this is a refutation of that theory.

    I thought that the studies with the dolls was a refutation of the SBS claims. Am I to understand that they were ONLY related to a certain assumption, how much force is required? Has the minimum amount required been scientifically determined? The 3 year old in the post above broke her arm after falling only 16 inches. This “in fact, generally” doesn’t happen, except when it does?

    So, OK, they have “disproven” that shaking creates the amount of force “assumed” to cause SBS. Won’t those who support the theory of SBS simply claim, “it doesn’t require that much force”? Which is why I asked how they had “modeled brain swelling or bleeding”. Silly me, they didn’t attempt to do so. They refuted the possible force necessary, wow.

    Balko is certainly correct when he states “some of the people convicted for this may be innocent.”

  51. I reread the article. Note the section in bold. It says, “the shaking experiments failed to produce symptoms” So I wondered, how would these dolls actually “produce symptoms”?

    Where the near-unanimous opinion once held that the SBS triad of symptoms could only result from a shaking with the force equivalent of a fall from a three-story to four-story window, or a car moving at 25 mph to 40 mph (depending on the source), research completed in 2003 using lifelike infant dolls suggested that vigorous human shaking produces bleeding similar to that of only a 2-foot to 3-foot fall. Furthermore, the shaking experiments failed to produce symptoms with the severity of those typically seen in SBS deaths.

    Which is exactly why I asked my original question, which, in spite of your posts, surprise! still stands. “And they were accurately able to model brain bleeding and brain swelling in dolls?! Really? Really?!”

    I am sure it was only a typo.

  52. I wondered the same thing as Marshall Gill.

    30 yrs. ago in Pediatrics I was taught that the best position to put babies to bed in to prevent SIDS was prone. The consensus was not as great as exists today in favor of supine, but among pediatricians who had an opinion, that was it.

  53. OUR COMMITMENT,CUSTOMER IS GOD.

    http://www.icfshop.com =====FREE SHIPPING FREE======http://www.icfshop.com

    All the products are free shipping, and the the price is

    enticement , and also can accept the paypal payment.we can

    ship within 24 hours after your payment.

    accept the paypal

    free shipping

    competitive price

    any size available

    our price:coach chanel gucci LV handbags $32coogi DG edhardy

    gucci t-shirts $15CA edhardy vests.paul smith shoes

    $35jordan dunk af1 max gucci shoes $33EDhardy gucci ny New

    Era cap $15coach okely CHANEL DG Sunglass $16.our price:

    (Bikini)coach chanel gucci LV handbags $32.coogi DG edhardy

    gucci t-shirts $15.CA edhardy vests.paul smith shoes

    $35.jordan dunk af1 max gucci shoes $33.EDhardy gucci ny New

    Era cap $15.coach okely CHANEL DG Sunglass $16

    http://www.icfshop.com=====FREE SHIPPING FREE=====http://www.icfshop.com

    I wish you a happy shopping and happy every day!

  54. The latest research, yet to be published, has used dead babies, unsavoury, but a neccesary evil. This research confirms the prior research in showing that the injuries said to be sustained by shaking don’t occur – I will endeavour to get a date for the publication of this vital research.

    I remember the very immotive actions of the DA in Louise Woodward’s trial, shaking a doll over and over again. That’s what secured the conviction, thankfully those sorts of dramatics are not allowed to happen in UK courts.

    Some babies seem to be predisposed to bleed with only the slightest of knocks or bangs, the history given by parents/carers leading up to alleged SBS mimic each other and have done prior to the advent of the internet, now either all these people are very clever and colluding to get their stories straight, or we are looking at a yet to be identified bleeding problem.

    Certainly with the triad alone the event is always a “choking episode”, evidence gleaned from research in the UK proves that hypoxia can cause the triad and the choking episodes cause hypoxia, the baby being described as going floppy and blue – GERD plays a part in the clinical picture too and obtaining a full family medical history is vital in establishing cause.

  55. Hmmm… Second try. If the first version of this made it, feel free to delete this.

    Some comments:

    1) Simulations are not reality. All simulations must be viewed with the same scepticism as any other study. Further, it would just as wrong to ignore clinical studies and embrace simulations as it would be wrong to ignore the simulations when looking at clinical studies.

    2) Not even the simulations suggest that shaking *cannot* cause injury. Instead they suggest that trivial forces cannot, and that forces that would cause shaking-related injury would also cause cervical spinal injury. In fact, however, just as bruising can be subtle or not found in blunt trauma, these cervical injuries can be subtle and not seen on traditional autopsy. For instance, in one study recently published, cervical injuries were noted on microdissection in 29% of deaths the authors diagnosed as shaking (see: Gill, JD et al. Fatal Head Injury in Children Younger Than 2 Years in New York City and an Overview of the Shaken Baby Syndrome 2009 Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine: Vol. 133, No. 4, pp. 619-627 )

    Are those who claim that you cannot have shaking-related injuries without cervical damage going to dismiss these as well, even though they have cervical damage?

    3) You certainly can have fatal trauma from short falls. There is an important distinction to be made between “uncommon” and “impossible.” Multiple studies have demonstrated skull fracture and intracranial injury from short falls, both in clinical studies (such as Quayle, KF et al. Diagnostic Testing for Acute Head Injury in Children: When Are Head Computed Tomography and Skull Radiographs Indicated? PEDIATRICS Vol. 99 No. 5 May 1997, pp. e11). German cadaver studies on babies have also demonstrated fractures from short falls.

    4) Bruising is not necessary in fatal head trauma. As the study above notes, scalp contusions are not significantly associated with intracranial injury in most cohorts of infants (in children less than one year of age is is associated with skill fx but not intracranial injury).

    5) Even in those cases where SBS is the wrong diagnosis, this does not imply that this is somehow a natural death. In almost all cases where it is not SBS, it is blunt trauma. The argument that these are not homicides is a little like arguing that it’s not a homicide because the victim was killed with a steak knife rather than a paring knife.

  56. “3) Current research shows that vigorous shaking produces forces similar to falls from 2 to 3 feet.”

    Even if true, the force of a fall is applied one time, no? In the shaken baby situation, it could be applied dozens, perhaps hundreds of times.

  57. OK guys, you tell me how you pick upo a baby shake it with significant force and leave no bruises or marks? Hmmm? Not possible! Clothing would cause friction burns, oh and you have to be really quite strong to keep it up.

  58. Baby is left alone with caretaker who admits to shaking baby and baby died. This has happened. So – an experiment has proven that you can shake a baby to death, and all the lab tests in the world cannot contradict the reality. The observable reality is that you can shake a baby to death. The alternatives are that all of these confessions are forced. But, what is the simplest explanation that explains the real world data with real world babies?

    If this causes society to be more careful in our assumptions and criminal prosecution, wonderful. However, unless we assume that there has never been 1 case of a confession being true, in real world experiments with real babies, we know you can shake them to death. Scientists need to remember that their models cannot supercede reality.

  59. What’s wrong with this sentence?

    “In a compelling article published this month in the Washington University Law Review, DePaul University law professor Deborah Teurkheimer argues that the medical research has now shifted”

    Hint: referring to a law article by a law professor to support medical theories.

    1. Since the medical theories are being used to support legal verdicts, I think the professor’s article is relevant – it isn’t evidence that the medical theories are wrong, but it does have a bearing on the topic at hand.

  60. EpiMan:”Baby is left alone with caretaker who admits to shaking baby and baby died. This has happened. So – an experiment has proven that you can shake a baby to death”

    No – what the experiment showed was that the baby died at about the same time the baby was shaken, while in the care of a not-very-careful “caretaker,” and that the baby MAY have died from SBS, but might have died from any of a number of other things that a bad caretaker might have done – or none of them.

    Maybe the caretaker exposed the kid to a virus, or some cleaning solution, or an allergen, or done some combination of things which resulted in the child’s death – or it may have been a coincidence. Or even deliberate, cold-blooded murder in some other fashion that never was detected because “everyone knew” it was shaken baby syndrome.

    It’s a big jump from “possibly” or “maybe” to “certainly,” but the default assumption in the courts for a long time has been on the “certain” side.

  61. “OK guys, you tell me how you pick upo a baby shake it with significant force and leave no bruises or marks? Hmmm? Not possible!”

    OK, Penny, you tell me how you pick up a baby, hit it in the head with significant force and leave no bruises or marks? Hmmmm? Not possible!?!

    …. Er, but it is. And it’s documented in multiple studies, as I’ve noted.

  62. More lovely info on this type of death….the great khan’s men would place a convicted man between 2, 20′ or so canvas blankets and using 50 men or so…. shake them to death……charming…..come a long way haven’t we…….

  63. take a small dog or puppy. shake well. bury dog. although there may be some truth to the fact that these symptons can occur in other circumstances, the fact of the matter is that i could shake most adults to death. when they start with being unsure that an adult could shake a baby to death, you know they are full of shit.

  64. Hitting a baby with a blunt object or slamming it against a hard surface is hardly the same as a baby who is presented floppy and unresponsive, who at PM has no marks is it?

    There seems to be a polarisation of views, yet again, with little consensus – child abuse exists, sadly and parents and carers kill their children in all sorts of ways.

    Some convictions are unsafe. The science backing up this thoery is at best flawed. At least accept that, and if it’s flawed what is the answer?

  65. In Wichita, Kansas, for the past 20 years, the same exact doctor is at every emergency room that bears a child that is hurt. In every case, she steps in as a child abuse expert, and dubs it SBS. Every case is charged as an off the grid, first degree murder charge, if the child dies, and mothers, babysitters, fathers and boyfriends are serving life sentences without anyone doubting her expertise or the science claimed at the trial. Kansas also allows photographs of the autopsies to seal the deal. They state that children just do not fall down the stairs, out of shopping carts, in a bathtub, etc. True child abuse is heinous and horrific, but as even an adult can tell you, one slip on the ice and a crack to your head is terrible, and no one shook you. The shame is that many Innocence Projects are interested in Kansas cases, but because DNA is not relevant, they are helpless to act. Meanwhile, the good doctor continues her broken record….

  66. After reading all the debunking, I say to the esteemed medical experts who dispute SBS and triad of injuries…. Give us your child or grandchild and let us shake them for a while. After all, you’re the expert, and you’re stating we can’t create enough force. Why be afraid now that you’ve stated your qualified, peer-reviewed, medical expertise?

  67. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

  68. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp.

  69. Just thought you’d be interested to know about this violent no knock warrant story.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.