Monday, 24 August 2015

The shaken baby syndrome hypothesis

From Argument and Critique:

"The critical point ... is that shaking may cause bleeding behind the eyes or in the brain, but the existence of this type of bleeding does not prove that the baby was shaken, since it has now been established that there can be numerous causes of this of type of bleeding, other than shaking (Donohoe, 2003; Hymel et al, 2002; Lantz, 2004a; Plunkett, 2001; Findley et al, 2012; Luttner, 2014b)."

"Dr Guthkelch became aware of the uses to which his work was being put when he was approached by Law Professor Carrie Sperling from the Arizona Justice Project and asked to review the case of Drayton Witt, a young father who had been convicted of murdering his baby son, based on allegations of shaking (Sperling, 2012:248; Brennan, & Castille, 2012). At the first meeting, Dr Guthkelch corrected Professor Sperling’s use of the term theory to describe SBS."

"He pointed out to her that it was not a theory, merely an hypothesis... "

"Dr Guthkelch is concerned that aspects of the Shaken Baby Syndrome concept are "open to serious doubt." His concerns, together with the evidence of six other experts, led to Drayton Witt’s exoneration in 2012 (National Registry of Exoneration, 2012)."

"After the Drayton Witt case, Professor Sperling went on to make Dr Guthkelch aware of the extent to which parents were being wrongly accused of killing their babies through shaking. Other cases were reviewed in which it was similarly found that the child had a pre-existing medical condition that provided the cause of death (Lutttner, 2014). "

From Medical Kidnap:

"A new film exposing the corruption behind much of the Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnosis used to remove children from the custody of their parents, and in some cases put parents behind bars, is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. The Syndrome is a film produced and directed by Meryl Goldsmith, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who teamed up with her cousin and investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith as the co-producer and editor..." "Many of the film’s subjects have dedicated their professional lives to gaining attention to updated research on child injuries, and to defending accused abusers in court. For this, they have faced a huge backlash from the doctors and prosecutors who disagree. The filmmakers knew they’d get swept up in that, too. Many film festivals that considered including the film were threatened with litigation, and accused of promoting child abuse, the filmmakers said in a recent interview." "This is a theme in our film—how the proponents of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma have tried to silence their critics," Susan Goldsmith says. "And that theme is extending to here and now, to our documentary..."
"Last year (2014) law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, who is featured in Goldsmith’s film, wrote a an article for Slate about 43-year-old Jennifer Del Prete, a former Illinois day care worker who had served 10 years of a 20 year prison sentence over Shaken Baby Syndrome, but was then released by a federal judge. Tuerkheimer’s article, Finally, a Judge Calls Shaken Baby Diagnosis an "Article of Faith", stated that the ruling was "one of a growing number that reflect skepticism on the part of judges, juries, and even prosecutors about criminal convictions based on the medical diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome."

"Tuerkheimer went on to write:" "The case is also a critical turning point. The certainty that once surrounded shaken baby syndrome… has been dissolving for years. The justice system is beginning to acknowledge this shift but should go further to re-examine and perhaps overturn more past convictions. (Read the full article.)"- See more at:

From Law Weekly:

"In The Syndrome, Goldsmith reveals that the doctors who frothed up Satanic Panic moved on to shape the next crisis. Chadwick, Reece and Jenny have all served as advisors to, or on the board of directors of, the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Farmington, Utah. They've defined new medical terminology in medical books which they've promoted to doctors, hospitals, and law enforcers. With hundreds of doctors following their lead, Goldsmith's documentary argues, the three helped trigger a surge of Shaken Baby Syndrome prosecutions — convictions now increasingly discredited by multiple media investigations, outspoken scientists and doctors, and attorney-led innocence projects that seek to free condemned baby shakers from U.S. prisons."

"When I put it all together, it was like being electrocuted," says Goldsmith. "It's pretty damning." 


"Why would doctors flog questionable science? It's hard to say for certain, and each of the three doctors has done commendable work in other areas of child abuse... "

"Yet, on the stand for an SBS prosecution in Troy, New York, Jenny admitted to charging $3,000 a day to testify in trials against accused caretakers, and Goldsmith notes in The Syndrome that over the last 10 years she's received over $250,000 in grant money to research the bio-mechanical aspects of SBS but has published no new data."

"In their 2014 tax returns, the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome reported yearly earnings of $2.14 million from grants and purchases of their often state-mandated and trademarked educational materials, such as a $250 CD Rom with slides. That's at least cheaper than the $879 that Realityworks charges doctors for a Shaken Baby Syndrome dummy with light-up sensors in its see-through brain. Notes Goldsmith, "The entire field of Shaken Baby Syndrome is a giant industrial complex with millions of dollars flowing."

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