Andrew Bedner, Jr. was arraigned on Monday in Vermont District Court. At the hearing, David Sleigh, Bedner’s attorney, asked if his client may be involved in the medical decisions for the baby. The infant’s injuries require that the infant remain on life support until the decision may be made to remove the infant from life support. Mr. Bedner denies abusing the infant.
News stories report that court records reveal Mr. Bedner struck the child in the back of the head on July 28, 2008. However, upon examination medical providers discovered the infant had multiple injuries in different stages of healing. For example, the infant has multiple rib fractures in different stages of healing. The infant also sustained severe and devastating head injuries including skull fractures and hemorrhages.
It is important to rule out intentional versus non-intentional injury in infants. The CDC statistics show that approximately 22 out of every 100,000 infants die from accidental causes. The version of events provided by parents or caregivers should accurately reflect the developmental level of the child. 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.