The research by Dr Melissa Kaltner forms part of what is believed to be Australia’s first study of the incidence of Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) in children aged two years and under.
“Abusive Head Trauma in infants is caused by aggressive behaviour or violent shaking (shaken baby syndrome),” said Dr Kaltner, who completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Justin Kenardy from Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (CONROD).
Previous studies indicated parents of affected babies confessed that crying sparked their actions.
“The most common symptoms associated with Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) include vomiting, poor feeding, fever, irritability, lethargy, bruising, swelling and bone fractures,” Dr Kaltner said.
“In severe cases of injury, brain and retinal haemorrhages were also found to occur.
“My research revealed that 30 percent of infants who experienced severe AHT died of their injuries. Those who survive are often left with lifelong disability,” she said.
Sydney-based Westmead Hospital is currently running the Crying Baby Program that aims to educate parents on the risks associated with infant shaking and provides practical tips on dealing with crying babies.
Dr Kaltner hopes to commence a similar project in an effort to prevent such injuries in Queensland.
Media: Dr Melissa Kaltner (0457 883 834) or Divya Parthasarathy at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049)