For many years now, the symptoms that signal an infant has died from shaken baby syndrome (SBS) have stood as irrefutable. It seems that status may be coming to an end as more federal judges are taking a closer look at how SBS is determined and proven.
Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, SBS cases became routine in courtrooms all across the country. These cases relied on three symptoms called the triad. These symptoms are brain bleeding, retinal bleeding, and brain swelling. When all of these were present, it was almost an automatic SBS diagnosis and conviction which Keith Mann feels isn’t necessarily the actual case.
Now experts are in hot debates over whether this is the right way to diagnose SBS deaths. Dr. Norman Guthkelch, the now retired doctor credited with discovering SBS and the triad, has gone on record as saying his findings are not a definitive test of SBS death. The problem is that more and more health experts are finding that the same triad symptoms can be caused by things other than being shaken, like a fall from a short height.
In recent years, at least 19 cases involving SBS convictions have been overturned. While many experts agree with this trend, The National Center on Shaken-Baby Syndrome feels that wrongful convictions are rare. Others believe this re-evaluation of SBS cases will lead to abusers being released back onto the streets.