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Medical providers move away from the term ‘shaken baby syndrome’

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Most people who have babies are probably aware of the term “shaken baby syndrome.” Parents are generally educated on the serious head trauma shaking a baby out of frustration could cause to the child. In addition to potentially causing devastating injuries, it could also lead to death.

Now, at least one hospital in the province, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, is abandoning the use of the term. A revision of 2002 statement on shaken baby syndrome released by multiple entities including the Public Health agency of Canada and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, is in the process of being drafted. Instead of the term, it is expected to use either abusive head injury or traumatic head injury.

The move away from the term shaken baby syndrome is being done to focus on the specific injuries suffered by a child, not a possible cause. This is important since the injuries previously categorized as shaken baby syndrome can also be the result of other types of incidents. In fact, following a review of multiple cases in Canada, two individuals convicted of manslaughter in connection with shaken baby syndrome, have received leave to appeal those convictions.

Though law enforcement in Ontario has not yet adopted the change in terminology, it is possible the change in the medical field—which provides more specific information about an injury—could have a bearing on the number of individuals charged with manslaughter in relation to children.

Regardless of the reason that someone faces a manslaughter charge, a conviction can result in harsh penalties. For that reason anyone who finds they are facing such an accusation should engage the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer.

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