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Queens DA's Office Holds Conference to Address Shaken Baby Deaths

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | September 20, 2013 6:03pm
 Queens District Attorney Richard Brown
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown
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DNAinfo/BMR Breaking News

QUEENS — Medical and legal experts from around the country met in Manhattan on Friday in a conference organized by the Queens District Attorney's office to discuss ways to prevent shaken baby syndrome, which remains at high levels.

“Each year more than 1,000 children across this country, ages five and under, experience severe or fatal head trauma as a result of violent, repetitive shaking,” said DA Richard Brown.

At least 80 kids in the U.S. die each year due to shaken baby syndrome, according to statistic provided by the DA’a office, which prosecutes approximately five to 10 shaken baby syndrome cases a year.

The two-day conference, meant primarily for medical, legal and law enforcement professionals, was held the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, which co-sponsored the event.

Abusive head trauma, also called shaken baby syndrome, is caused by intentional shaking, and is considered a form of child abuse, experts said.

In most cases, there are no visible signs of external trauma. Injuries, however, are often fatal or can lead to severe brain damage.

During the conference, experts discussed the challenges in diagnosing shaken baby syndrome as opposed to injuries from an accidental fall.

ADA Marjory Fisher, the chief of the Queens County District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, and senior ADA Leigh Bishops, who specializes in child abuse cases, discussed the difficulties in such investigations because the caretakers of babies rarely confess to the crime.

“Babies don’t wear cameras,” said Bruce Herman, a doctor from University of Utah School of Medicine.