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Ask Dr. A. Clark Your Own Question
Dr. A. Clark
Dr. A. Clark, Pediatrician
Category: Pediatrics
Satisfied Customers: 4437
Experience:  33 years of experience as a general pediatrician in private practice and in pediatric urgent care.
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Good evening, Im a first time mom with a 6 week old baby.

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Good evening,
I'm a first time mom with a 6 week old baby. A little over a week ago, my baby was really fussy and I was trying everything to get her to calm down. It seemed like I rocked her harder than I normally do. I guarantee that I never picked her up and shook her, but I've been really nervous about rocking her too hard to still get Shaken Baby Syndrome. Is that possible? I looked up the symptoms, and so far I haven't seen the symptoms, but I'm still nervous that they can show up. I guess my question is can symptoms still show up after a week? I know what it sounds like, but I promise I never shook her. I just hope I didn't rock her too hard.

Dr. A. Clark :

Hi. I'm Dr. Clark and I'm happy that you have asked me to assist you with your child and hope that you can benefit from my many years of helping parents like you.

Dr. A. Clark :

First, I can assure you that you did not rock your baby hard enough, if that is even possible, to cause Shaken Baby Syndrome!

Customer:

Are you sure? Is there any way I can approach my baby's pediatrician about this without being looked at as an abuser? I have been so nervous ever since. After reading the symptoms, that is all I look for now in my baby. If she cries too much, I worry. If she sleeps too much, I worry.

Dr. A. Clark :

SBS is caused by vigorous shaking like a rag doll with the head violently snapping back and forth, which causes the brain to rattle back and forth inside the skull, bruising the brain and even causing blood vessels to break.

Dr. A. Clark :

Rocking, even fast, with the head cradled against you is NOT going to generate enough force to cause any damage to the brain.

Dr. A. Clark :

It is the snapping back and forth that is harmful so I'm sure that was not what happened with your baby.

Dr. A. Clark :

Babies who have this syndrome present with a history of being unconscious or unable to be aroused, seizures, lethargy, poor feeding, and appear quite ill.

Dr. A. Clark :

Rocking, bouncing while walking, swinging, riding around in the car, etc have always been used to quiet babies but I encourage you to take a look at Dr. Harvey Karp's technique for quieting babies that seems to be quite effective and gentle.

Dr. A. Clark :

Here is his website with more info:

Customer:

Could I request a CT scan? I trust your advise, I just feel like I have to see it to believe it.

Dr. A. Clark :

No need to do that as that is not necessary without symptoms of SBS and worse is a high dose of radiation (about like 50 chest X-rays!).

Dr. A. Clark :

Trust me, both as a parent and grandparent, as well as having taken care of thousands of babies over my 3 years in practice, that your baby was not harmed by vigorous rocking while being held in your arms. The injury to the brain in SBS is the same as is seen with slamming the head down on a hard surface, as happens with both accidental and non-accidental (abuse) trauma.

Dr. A. Clark :

Sorry, 34 years of practice!!

Dr. A. Clark :

It is due to the sudden acceleration and deceleration of the brain inside the skull, not from activities such as rocking.

Customer:

See, one of the techniques I used, and I guess had me most scared, was i had her on my knee facing me. I then rocked her back and forth, but i held her by the armpit and had support of her head.

Dr. A. Clark :

As long as her head was supported it is virtually impossible to cause such an injury I assure you.

Customer:

What if it wasn't supported enough? I was sleepy that night. I'm sorry about all the questions, I'm just really worried.

Dr. A. Clark :

I assure you that she would have had symptoms right away: excessively fussy alternating with severe lethargy, seizures, etc. Please don't beat yourself up as I am sure she is fine or she would have had symptoms then and since then.

Customer:

If you were my baby's doctor, and I approached you with this, would I be targeted as an abuser, even if nothing is wrong?

Dr. A. Clark :

Not at all and I've actually had many parents ask me this over the years, even before SBS was really appreciated as an issue. Babies are amazingly resilient and I've had crying parents tell me they hit their baby's head on a door frame, dropped them, had stuff fall on their heads, etc. When they are appropriately concerned I never worry.

Dr. A. Clark :

I would not suspect you of being anything other than a concerned (first time) mother and I'd just give you a hug and reassure you that your baby is fine.

Dr. A. Clark :

Check out Dr. Karp's book and also you might take a look at Dr. Richard Ferber's book on sleep that is excellent.

Customer:

That makes me feel so much better. I adore this little girl, and I don't know what I would do if something terrible happened to her. I do have one more question on a different topic. While looking for hemorrhages in her eyes, the lighting in the room was terrible so we used my husband's cell phone flashlight. Not thinking about it until after the fact, we realized it was an LED light. Could that blind her?

Dr. A. Clark :

No problem with an LED light. A laser, yes, LED no. More and more lights will be LED as they are more energy efficient and we all will be looking at them more.

Dr. A. Clark :

I'm glad I could ease your mind and I hope you will quit being so hard on yourself but I can tell you that most good moms blame themselves for everything that happens to their babies, unless it's Dad's fault!

Dr. A. Clark :

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Now, go play with your baby!

Dr. A. Clark :

I see you are typing so I'll stand by. Chat has a pesky habit of knocking us off after 4 minutes if neither of us posts anything!

Customer:

Haha!! Thank you soooo much. You have really eased my mind. You're a blessing. I'm sure you'll hear from me again, but not tonight. God Bless!

Dr. A. Clark :

Happy to assist you any time. Have a great evening.

Dr. A. Clark :
Please remember as you exit chat to rate my service as that is the only way experts are compensated for their time! If you feel unsatisfied with my answer at all please don't exit but just hit the REPLY tab and let me know of the issue or question that you have. I will be happy to continue working with you and will do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek and I hope that I can earn an excellent rating from you.

Dr. A. Clark :

You will see a rating option when you exit chat and after you (hopefully!) rate me favorably I'll be given the option of contacting you later to see how things are going (no charge!).

Dr. A. Clark and other Pediatrics Specialists are ready to help you
I hope your baby is doing well but if you ever have any other problems for which you'd like my advice please feel free to reply here or with a new question, asking for me by name. Have a great day and my best to your family.