Shaken Baby Syndrome, Abusive Head Trauma, and Actual Innocence: Getting it Right by Patrick D. Barnes, Keith A. Findley, David A. Moran and Waney Squier

A detailed analysis here by medical practitioners and legal academics refuting the theory of Shaken Baby Syndrome. This is a peer-reviewed paper published in the year 2012 in the Houston Journal of Health Law and Policy.

The abstract to this paper states: “In the past decade, the existence of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) has been called into serious question by biomechanical studies, the medical and legal literature and the media…[SBSor Abusice Head Trauma (AHT)]  refers to the two-part hypothesis that one can reliably diagnose shaking or abuse from three internal findings (subdural hemorrhage, retinal hemorrhage and encephalopathy) and that one can identify the perpetrator based on the onset of symptoms. Over the past decade, we have learned that this hypothesis fits poorly with the anatomy and physiology of the infant brain, that there are many natural and accidental causes for these findings, and that the onset of symptoms does not reliably indicate timing…..In the past decades thousands of parents and caretakers have been accused – and many convicted – of abusing children based on a hypothesis that is not scientifically supported. While we must do everything in our power to protect children, we must refrain from invoking abuse as a default diagnosis for medical findings, that are complex, poorly understood and have a wide range of causes, some doubtlessly yet unknown. To this end, we are calling fro collaboration between the medical and legal communities for the sole purpose of “getting it right”.

Readers should also be informed that a few years after the publication of this paper, one of its authors, British doctor, Waney Squier, a neuropathologist and Honorary Clinical Lecturer at the University of Oxford, who gave expert testimony in many cases against misdiagnosis of shaken baby syndrome, faced proceedings for revocation of her license before the General Medical Council. Her refutation of SBS, seems to have angered advocates of this theory in the medical, legal and police community. But Dr Squier is a respected and highly qualified doctor, and the proceedings against her were criticised by medical and legal experts, as they appeared to be an effort in censoring medical practitioners  who did not believe in SBS theory. Dr Squier’s medical license was restored on appeal, but she has been restrained for the time being from giving expert evidence on SBS cases. It is important to note that the decision in her case made clear that it was not a judgement on the scientific basis or research refuting SBS theory.