The instructions given to doctors to diagnose shaken babies are maintained. It is the opinion that the Board of state rendered on July 7, rejecting the request of parents who demanded the cancellation of these instructions, responsible according to them for judicial errors.

Report to the prosecutor

These instructions were drafted in 2011, then updated in 2017, by the High Authority for Health (HAS), intended for physicians. They state that when a shaken baby syndrome is diagnosed, the child “must be hospitalized in pediatric intensive care“and the healthcare professional must”report imperatively to the public prosecutor in order to protect the child“.

Read also: Shaken babies: controversial diagnostic criteria

“Medical and legal errors”

But the association Adikia, which groups “parents falsely accused of mistreatment due to misdiagnosis“, contests these recommendations and had seized the Council of State to have them repealed.

These parents believe that they can “cause a massive number of medical errors leading to so many miscarriages of justice“, according to the letter sent at the end of 2019 to the HAS by their lawyer, Maître Grégoire Etrillard.

Other possible causes

According to those parents opposed to the recommendations, these lead to automatically attributing symptoms to shaken baby syndrome that can be caused by falls from a low height or genetic diseases.

These arguments were rejected by the Council of State. “Contrary to what is argued, the recommendation does not indicate (…) that a fall from a low height cannot cause symptoms similar to those of shaken baby syndrome, but notes that the lesions associated with such a fall cannot may exhibit the characteristics and location of lesions associated with shaking“, writes in particular the highest French administrative court.

10 to 40% of deaths

Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when an adult shakes an infant, usually out of exasperation, anger, or exhaustion over crying that they can’t stand.

Each year, several hundred children, mostly under six months old, are victims of this syndrome according to the HAS. 10% to 40% die from it and the others can have lifelong neurological consequences: learning difficulties, epilepsy, visual disturbances or even paralysis.