Shaken baby syndrome

Estimated Duration: 
1 hour

Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is the leading cause of preventable, traumatic head injury in those under the age of two years. The term SBS is the most commonly used internationally although remains controversial as it indicates one exact cause of injury.

In NZ around 20 children each year are admitted to hospital as a result of being shaken. For those who present to hospital the prognosis is poor; one in five will die.  One to two thirds may be left with disability and only 10% will make a full recovery. These figures however may not be truly indicative of the number of infants and young children suffering from SBS. Several international studies have described SBS as the ‘iceberg condition’; if figures are correct then it could be possible that 3000 babies are shaken annually in New Zealand.   

Learning objectives include:

  • To gain an understanding of what SBS is and how injury occurs.
  • To be able to identify appropriate investigations and referrals should there be a suspicion of SBS.
  • To recognise injuries that may be present in shaken infants.
  • To understand the prevalence of SBS.
  • To recognise the causative triggers and social risk factors that leave the under two’s more susceptible to SBS.
  • To gain an understanding on how to support, advise and educate carers to minimise the risk of their child being shaken.


Once you have completed this short course and quiz, please click 'submit' where you will be taken to the results page. From here you can print your certificate for 1 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hour.


This content was created by Joanne Smith Specialist Clinical Nurse DipHE Nursing (Child Health), in August 2016. It was reviewed by Dr Karen Hoare PhD, Senior Lecturer / Nurse Practitioner Children and Youth Primary Health Care, University of Auckland and Dr Miriam Nakatsuji MBChB, DipPaeds, Cert Women’s Health, FRNZCGP, Professional Teaching Fellow Clinical Skills Centre, FMHS in 2018.

The material is presented by the Goodfellow Unit (GFU), an accredited continuing medical education/ continuing professional development (CME/CPD) provider for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and functions under a tripartite agreement between the Goodfellow Foundation, the College and the University of Auckland. The Unit is located within the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, and within the School of Population Health.


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