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Documentary not factual; shaken baby syndrome does exist

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child abuse kills over 1,600 children every year. Most child abuse victims are infants less than 1 year old. Abusive Head Trauma is the most common form of fatal child abuse.

{mprestriction ids="1"}Extensive medical literature supports the fact that Shaken Baby Syndrome, which is a form of Abusive Head Trauma ["AHT/SBS"] exists and can be accurately diagnosed. This evidence includes multiple scientific treatises and over seven hundred peer-reviewed clinical medical articles. According to the Center for Disease Control, Shaken Baby Syndrome is a leading cause of death in the United States because vigorously shaking a baby can be fatal. The Mayo Clinic defines Shaken Baby Syndrome as a form of child abuse that can result in permanent brain damage or death. The scientific validity of the AHT/SBS diagnosis has also been unanimously affirmed by every national and international professional medical association that has issued a public statement on this topic including: The World Health Organization, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Ophthalmology, The American College of Radiology, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American College of Surgeons; The American Association of Neurologic Surgeons, The Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, American College of Emergency Physicians; and The American Academy of Neurology.

Two Jewish filmmakers who made the new movie, "The Syndrome," were profiled on Oct. 2 in this newspaper. As that article reveals, their new movie takes the position that "Shaken Baby Syndrome, a child abuse theory responsible for hundreds of prosecutions each year in the U.S., is not scientifically valid [and] does not even exist."

A number of pediatric medical experts with decades of experience diagnosing and treating infants around the country have publically expressed their concern that "The Syndrome" ignores the legitimate medical and scientific data. Real child abuse professionals who, unlike the professional medical witnesses featured in the new movie, treat and diagnose children in their everyday medical practices. In their view, promulgating false information about shaking puts infants’ lives at risk and undermines local, state and national child abuse prevention efforts including laws across the United States targeted at reducing infant deaths and traumatic brain injuries caused by shaking.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "documentary" as a movie or television program that tells the facts about actual people and events. If you decide to see "The Syndrome," at least you now know the facts.


Joelle Anne Moreno is a professor of law and associate dean for faculty research & development at Florida International University.{/mprestriction}