Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 248–250 | Cite as

“Shaken baby syndrome” and forensic pathology

  • Waney Squier

I welcome the creation of a forum to air opposing views in this “very contentious and hotly debated area” [1]. The critical issue is why, after more than 40 years, shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma (SBS/AHT) remains controversial.

Contrary to Byard’s suggestion, the SBS/AHT controversy is not about whether infants can be damaged or killed by violent shaking or abuse; of course they can. The real controversy is over whether shaking or abuse may reliably be inferred from specific findings, classically, subdural and retinal hemorrhage with encephalopathy (the triad).

Although SBS/AHT is a neuropathological and biomechanical hypothesis, we have learned in recent decades that it does not comport with the neuropathology of the infant brain or the biomechanics of head injury. The SBS/AHT hypothesis assumed that the triad was caused by the physical rupture of bridging veins, retinal vessels, and axons within the brain, requiring forces often described as equivalent to a multi-story fall...


Retinal Hemorrhage Forensic Pathology Criminal Conviction Subdural Hemorrhage Infant Brain 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neuropathology, West Wing, John Radcliffe HospitalOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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