The Arc logo

The Shock of Shaken-Baby Syndrome

A recent New York Times magazine article examined whether flawed diagnosis of baby’s with shaken-baby syndrome was causing innocent people to go to jail.

In 2008, a Wisconsin court wrote that there is “fierce disagreement” among medical professionals about the shaken-baby diagnosis. That same year the Ontario government reviewed 142 shaken-baby cases due to “the scientific uncertainty that has come to characterize that diagnosis.”

According to the Times article, “between 1,200 and 1,400 children in the United States sustain head injuries attributed to abuse each year. Most of them are less than a year old…there is no exact count of shaken-baby prosecutions, but law-enforcement authorities think that there are about 200 a year.”

At a trial for the caregiver sentenced to a 10 ½ year punishment for child abuse, in January 2010, parent Michael Whitmer took the stand in support of the decision. Four-month old Noah’s Whitmer’s caregiver was convicted for shaking the baby resulting in irreparable brain damage.

Whitmer told the jury: “This is a life sentence for my son, for my wife, for me and for our family.”

A parent’s perspective on caring for child with a developmental disability is profound, but it does not have to be a life sentence. The Arc provides supports and services to individuals and their families – to give them hope and opportunity over the course of their lifetime. Through embracing The Arc, families are provided with the resources they need to envision bright and fulfilling futures.