The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome's Victim Database
To aid in the understanding and prevention of SBS, The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) analyzed the NCSBS' database of 3617 cases of SBS/AHT (shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma). Data is collected by the NCSBS that includes information on the SBS/AHT victim, perpetrator and legal outcomes of the cases. Many of the published studies on SBS/AHT rely on small samples from one hospital, county or state. To our knowledge, this is the largest database of SBS/AHT cases in the world. The large number of cases in our database, mostly from the United States, allows us to examine demographic patterns for the victim and perpetrator as well as the legal outcomes for cases of SBS/AHT. Only cases from the US were analyzed for this report. Data analysis includes cases entered into the database up to June 30, 2008.
In 1998, the NCSBS started collecting information on SBS/AHT cases through newspaper articles from both print and online sources, websites of victim family members, personal communication with professionals handling the cases in various disciplines, accounts from communication with family members of the victim as well as specific cases outlined in medical journals. The cases were cross-referenced to ensure that no duplicate records were included in the database as the NCSBS was using multiple data sources. A search of court cases was also conducted using lexisONE. This service contains U.S. Supreme Court cases, as well as, federal and state cases in selected jurisdictions decided after January 1, 1997.
A physical file was developed for each victim and all articles or communications regarding the case were placed in the file. In cases where the victim name was not available to establish a unique case, other factors were looked at including geographic location and date of injury. In cases where it was not possible to confirm that the case was a unique incident, they were not included in the database. A database to track victim and perpetrator demographics as well as legal outcomes was developed using Access (Microsoft Corp, Redmond, Wash). Cases were predominantly entered by a single trained individual to ensure consistency of data entry.
Data for all variables were not obtained in every case due to the constraints of the information sources. For example, newspapers did not have online archives until the late 1990's and currently many charge a fee to access articles that are older than several weeks. Cases where information was obtained from court documents, professional communications, or parental reports contained more complete information that those from brief news reports.
Data Analysis as of June 22, 2008
Of the 3617 total cases in the NCSBS victim database, 3286 cases are from the United States.
In 723 of the 3286 US cases, the media reports indicated that the perpetrator admitted to shaking the child.
Victim gender: 1840 male, 1362 female, 84 gender unknown.
50 cases involved twin births (one or both of the twins).
1817 of the 3286 cases were fatal.
Crying was cited as a trigger in the media report in 303 of the 3286 cases.
Victim age was unavailable in 143 of the 3286 US cases.
Age in months; # of victims
over 24; 124
Of the 2842 cases where perpetrator gender was known, 782 were female and 2060 were male.
In cases where the relation of the perpetrator to the victim was known:
537 - Father of victim
232 - Child care provider
202 - Boyfriend of victim’s mother
114 - Mother of victim
13 - Babysitter age 12-18
172 fit into many other various categories too numerous to list in this brief report.