January 20, 2011
Four-month-old Nahari Henderson of Flint is dead and 8-month-old Lily May Yeager of Genesee Township is in critical condition.
"Whenever a 4-month-old dies of this trauma and then I have to charge the father with a crime, it's a tragedy," Prosecutor David Leyton said on Tuesday, after Deangelo J. Henderson, 19, was charged with murder and a first-degree child abuse.
Dr. Faisal Mawri, pediatric emergency fellow at the University of Michigan Health System and former chief pediatric resident at Hurley, said there are 1,400 cases of shaken baby syndrome reported each year nationwide.
He said the actual number is much higher because the incidents are under reported.
And, Faisal said he believes the Flint area has a higher per capita shaken baby syndrome rate than the national average. It was one of the reasons he received a $15,000 grant to educate high school students on the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.
“The parent loses control, sometimes it’s just 4 or 5 seconds,” he said. “It takes significant amount of force.”
Shaken baby syndrome is the result of brain damage or neck and back damage, and it is particularly dangerous because babies neck muscles aren’t fully developed, he said.
Education is key to prevention, he said.
“When you get frustrated, call a friend,” he said. “Walk away, put the baby in a safe place and check in on a baby frequently. Walking away from the baby and coming back is not
going to cause brain damage.”
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said many times the parent is a young person not ready for children. That’s not an excuse, he said.
“I don’t care how tired stressed or sick you become, you are obligated to take care of that child,” he said.
Nahari died Sunday after allegedly being taken to the hospital unresponsive on Friday afternoon.
Police said Lily was crying when her father allegedly started shaking her. Yeager was arrested after police were called to the hospital on Sunday.
Yeager said at his video arraignment Wednesday that he was laid off two months ago from a lawn care business. Magistrate Dena Altheide set a $50,000 bond and said he could not have any contact with his daughter.
Leyton said prosecuting the cases is hard.
“It’s very difficult to review them, to look at the facts, in some cases see pictures and read autopsies,” Leyton said. “For prosecutors and police, it’s emotionally taxing on us.”