Child\'s murder draws attention to abusive head trauma

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COLUMBIA - A Jamestown man was charged with murder for shaking his baby to death. Abusive head trauma, formerly known as "shaken baby syndrome," is caused by the rapid acceleration and jerking associated with shaking. 

According to University of Missouri Women's and Children's Hospital physician Gabriel Schifman, 1,300 children suffer from abusive head trauma each year in the United States and, of those children, 25 percent die. Eighty percent of those who do not die end up with life-long disabilities.

Schifman said abusive head trauma is not something that happens by accident.

"It's something that is considered to be abusive," he said. "It's not rough play. It's not bouncing a child on your lap. It's something that has to be harmful that would cause these symptoms and what can happen from this."

Schifman also said it is better for a frustrated parent to leave the child unattended in its crib than to become so upset that they harm the baby.

"If you're feeling like 'I cant take this anymore. I can't do this anymore,' don't ever get to that point where you harm the child," Schifman said.

He also said he sees a lot of cases of parents bringing their child to the emergency room when the child cannot be consoled, and that is the right thing to do.

Symptoms of abusive head trauma include differed behavior, stiffening, seizures, and difficulty waking.