35-year old Troy Pierce is being held in Boulder County Jail on charges of suspected child abuse. He is suspected of shaking his 8-week old nephew while baby sitting on March 8, 2008. Parents noticed their infant was having tremors and not tracking items in his visual field like he normally does. So they took the baby to Longmont United Hospital to be examined. After a physical examination and work up the infant was taken to Children’s Hospital. After the baby arrived to Children’s Hospital he arrested and was put on life support. Physicians say that there are numerous injuries and the explanation provided by Mr. Pierce does not match the child’s injuries. The baby has back injuries and bleeding in the brain. It is not known at this time what the long term consequences will be for this infant as a result of these injuries. Earhart police suspect the child is a victim of shaken baby syndrome.

Different forms of child abuse may happen to infants. One common form of child abuse found in infants is Shaken Baby Syndrome. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is an injurious condition caused by the shaking of an infant or child.  The action of rapidly shaking an infant or child causes the sudden forward, backward and sideway motion of the head. During the shaking action the brain is injured from hitting against the inside of the bony skull, causing inflammation, bleeding, separation of vessels and nerve fibers in the soft brain tissue on all sides of the brain. The brain of an infant or child is very soft because it has more water content and it is easier to injure than an adult brain. Therefore, less energy is required to cause lethal injury to an infant or child’s brain.  In SBS, the eyes may get injured by the sudden increase in pressure and motion around the soft tissues that make up the delicate structure of the eyes. After the shaking, the brain and the eyes bleed inside the confined spaces they are contained in.  This bleeding causes high pressure to build within the head and eyes. The damage caused by shaking the head, brain and eye structures and the increasing high pressure that follows causes permanent injury or death for the infant or child. If death does not occur the infant or child may be left with permanent brain damage, blindness, neuromuscular disability, paralysis, deafness, learning disabilities and/or a seizure disorder. According to the CDC, 1,490 children died from abuse and neglect in the Unites States for the year 2004. This number decreased in 2005 to 1,460 deaths. Greater than 75% of these deaths occurred in children under four years of age. A total of 872,000 children were reportedly abused in that same time frame. In 2005, child protective services investigated 3.6 million cases of reported child abuse complaints, which resulted in discovery of 899,000 cases of child abuse. Higher rates of abuse occur in the African-American population at 1,950 per 100,000 children. Girls are at a higher risk to be victims of maltreatment than boys. Mothers have demonstrated a more frequency tendency to abuse and are generally younger in age than male adult abusers. However male adult abusers inflict more severe abuse outcomes.    

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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