Comparative study of the cognitive sequelae of school-aged victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome

STIPANICIC Annie, et al
Journal article citation:
Child Abuse and Neglect, 32(3), March 2008, pp.415-428.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is now recognized as being the main cause of severe traumatic brain injury in infancy. However, understanding of the impact of this type of abuse on child development remains sketchy. The main objective of the current study was therefore to shed light on the cognitive dysfunctions that are particular to SBS victims once they are school-aged. A clinical group was formed of 11 children diagnosed with SBS who had been admitted between 1988 and 1999 to a tertiary paediatric hospital in Quebec, Canada. The children were matched for age, gender, socio-economic status, and family composition to 11 healthy Quebec children, who made up the control group. A battery of composite tests was developed to assess the children's main cognitive functions and was administered individually to the 22 children. A univariate t-test was used to compare the performances of the two groups. The mean age of the children in the clinical and control groups at the time of the assessment was 87.64 months and 90.18 months, respectively. Pairing and birth data were equivalent for both groups. Significant weaknesses were noted in the clinical group for intelligence quotient (IQ), working memory, mental organization, alternation, and inhibition. These deficits seemed to have a greater impact on the verbal sphere of the children's mental functioning. Primary results point to the anterior cerebral regions of the brain as the principal site of dysfunctions that persist years post-trauma. It is important to consider these results longitudinally, even in children apparently less extensively affected, since the frontal regions only reach maturity at the end of adolescence.

Subject terms:
psychology, babies, child abuse, child development, head injuries;
Content type:
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