Shaken baby syndrome is a severe form of head injury caused by the baby's brain rebounding inside of the baby's skull when shaken. In this injury there is bruising of the brain, swelling, pressure, and bleeding (intracerebral hemorrhage). This can easily lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death. If a child has this injury there are usually no outward physical signs of trauma, but there may be a change in the child's behavior such as irritability, lethargy, pale or bluish skin, vomiting, and convulsions.
Review Date 2/2/2021
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.