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Shaken Baby Syndrome Imprisonment by Misdiagnosis

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Fractures of ribs in an infant.
(image by National Institute of Health)
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Shaken Baby Syndrome Imprisonment by Misdiagnosis

by Jeffrey Dach MD

Over the past 30 years thousands of parents have been falsely accused, found guilty and imprisoned for "shaken baby syndrome", a diagnosis of child abuse based on Xrays showing fractures, intracerebral and retinal bleeding.

Left image shows old rib fractures (yellow arrow) on chest xray of infant. Is this diagnostic of child abuse ? What other diagnostic possibilities should be considered? Courtesy of Radiology Assistant.

John Caffey Pediatric Radiologist Invented "Shaken Baby Syndrome"

John Caffey, author of the 1946 authoritative textbook of pediatric radiology, coined the name "shaken infant syndrome".(15)

"In 1946, John Caffey described multiple fractures in the long bones of infants suffering from chronic subdural hematoma. None of the parents reported any knowledge of falls or physical injury, but Caffey suspected child abuse to explain the injuries. Following this retrospective, radiological study by Caffey, the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome (including retinal petechiae, multiple fractures of the long bones, and subdural hematomas) evolved and has resulted in many men and women being convicted of child abuse, all without any meaningful consideration of a differential diagnosis".(6) (Quote from Clemetson 2006)

Radiologists Now Questioning John Caffey's Authoritative Bible

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Illinois radiologist David Ayoub MD and pediatrician Edward Yazbak MD have studied the issue and found that many of these cases are not child abuse. Rather, many of these unfortunate babies have underlying metabolic bone disease associated with prematurity, chronic pneumonia, maternal and fetal Vitamin D3 deficiency, Vitamin C deficiency, Vitamin K deficiency, all aggravated by aluminum adjuvants in multiple vaccinations given early in the first few months of life. The underlying metabolic bone disease predisposes these babies to fracture. Coagulation disorders, and hypoxia predispose to intracerebral bleeding which may occur in-utero or associated with traumatic birth.

Fractured Femur: Wife Abuse or Metabolic Bone Disease?

An Xray shows a mid femur fracture. Is this a traumatic fracture caused by wife beating, "Battered Wife Syndrome"? Or Metabolic Bone disease?: If you guessed metabolic bone disease, you would be correct. This middle aged female had been treated many years with a bisphosphonate drug which created a metabolic bone disease, with a spontaneous mid-femur fracture occurring with NO trauma.

image : Cortical Thickening, and obvious Tranverse Mid Femur Fracture in a patient on osteoporosis drugs- Bisphosphonate. Image courtesy of Dr Jörg Schilcher and Per Aspenberg, Acta Orthop . 2009 August 7; 80(4): 413--415. Incidence of stress fractures of the femoral shaft in women treated with bisphosphonates.

Child Abuse Does Exist

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Needless to say, child abuse does exist. Some children are unwanted, and there are no doubt many cases of infanticide by parents who consider killing their child more convenient than caring for a demanding infant.

However, to incarcerate innocent parents and caregivers based on a false medical diagnosis of "Shaken Baby Syndrome" is equally unjust. The diagnosis of child abuse vs. metabolic bone disease requires appropriate testing for metabolic bone disease, and applying thought and consideration to the case. Hopefully pediatric radiologists and pediatricians can be educated quickly enough to bring a halt to the unjust imprisonment of innocent parents. Its bad enough to grieve over a lost infant. To grieve from inside a prison cell wrongly convicted of killing your own child is a bit too much.

Overturning the Convictions

After many long years of imprisonment, parents wrongly convicted of "shaken baby" are now being released, and convictions overturned, thanks to Drs. David Ayoub and Edward Yazbak who have devoted themselves to helping these innocent people.

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Jeffrey Dach MD is a physician and author of two books, Natural Medicine 101, and Bioidentical Hormones 101, both available on Amazon, or as a free e-book on his web sites. Dr. Dach is founder and chief medical officer of TrueMedMD, a clinic in (more...)

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